[JURIST] An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced ex-president Mohammed Morsi [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] and more than 100 others to death for their involvement in a mass prison break in 2011. The prison break occurred during the country’s 2011 uprising [JURIST backgrounder] that ousted then-president Hosni Mubarak [BBC profile]. Morsi was accused of conspiring with foreign militants to free Islamists during the mass prison breaks. The case was referred [BBC report] by Judge Shaaban el-Shami to the nation’s top Muslim theologian for his non-binding opinion on whether the sentences should stand, as is customary for all death sentences in Egypt. Co-founder of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party [official website] and Cabinet minister under Morsi Amr Darrag denounced [AP report] the verdict, saying that Saturday would be “remembered as one of the darkest days in Egypt history.” Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] also spoke against the verdict [AI report], calling for a retrial and stating that all evidence gathered against the former president and his co-defendants was inadmissible as a result of their illegal detention before trial.
The Muslim Brotherhood has been facing legal challenges, particularly in Egypt. In February an Egyptian court put Morsi on trial [JURIST report] over accusations of spying and leaking information to Qatar. Earlier in February an Egyptian court ordered the release [JURIST report] on bail of two Al Jazeera journalists being retried on terror charges. Baher Mohammed and Mohammed Fahmy have spent more than 400 days in jail after a court found them guilty for falsifying news reports and associating with the Muslim Brotherhood. Also that month a court in Egypt confirmed death sentences [JURIST report] for 183 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted president Mohammed Morsi. In October an Egyptian court jailed eight men [JURIST report], including two Muslim Brotherhood leaders, for 15 years over the torture of a lawyer during 2011 uprisings against former president Hosni Mubarak. In June a group of UN human rights experts expressed their anger [JURIST report] after an Egyptian court confirmed the death sentences of 183 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.