CAIRO: Egypt’s ousted president Mohamed Morsi, already jailed for 20 years for inciting violence against protesters, faces the death penalty Saturday for espionage and jailbreak nearly two years after his overthrow.
The country’s first freely elected president was ousted by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in July 2013 following mass street protests demanding the Islamist’s resignation after just a year in power.
His overthrow triggered a government crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement in which hundreds of people have died and thousands been imprisoned.
Rights groups accuse Sisi’s regime — widely backed by Egyptians tired of years of political turmoil — of using the judiciary as a tool to repress opposition.
Morsi was sentenced last month to 20 years in jail for inciting violence against protesters in 2012 when he was president, in a verdict Amnesty International denounced as a “travesty of justice”.
On Saturday, a judge will issue verdicts in two other trials on charges that could mean the death penalty.
An initial death penalty verdict in a mass trial is usually confirmed at a later hearing after receiving the approval of the mufti, the official interpreter of Islamic law.
In Saturday’s first case, Morsi and 130 others, including dozens of members of the Palestinian Hamas movement and Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah group, are accused of escaping from prisons and attacking police during the 2011 uprising against longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.