An Egyptian court sentenced to death deposed president Mohammed Morsi on Saturday for his role in a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising against then-President Hosni Mubarak.
Morsi was given the death sentence along with more than 100 others, the latest in a series of mass rulings against opponents of the regime of current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. In one ruling in April 2014, nearly 700 people were sentenced to death. Just weeks earlier, more than 500 were given death sentences in a separate case, though most were later commuted to life in prison.
Like all death sentences in Egypt, the decision must be referred to the Grand Mufti, Egypt’s top Sunni Muslim religious authority, for consideration. The Mufti is scheduled to make a ruling by June 2. Such rulings are considered non-binding and would not necessarily affect the court’s decision. The sentences are also open to appeal through Egypt’s judicial system.
The ruling prompted condemnation from international human rights groups.
In a statement, Amnesty International decried the decision, saying that the sentencing “after grossly unfair trials shows the deplorable state of the country’s criminal justice system.”
Said Boumedouha, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program, called the trial a “charade based on null and void procedures.”
The case against Morsi centers on a prison break that took place during the height of the 2011 protests against Mubarak. Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood members had been arrested and held for several days at Wadi al-Natrun prison.
On Jan. 28, 2011, in the midst of the revolt, armed men took over the prison and released thousands of inmates, including Morsi.
Among those sentenced Saturday were about 70 Palestinian citizens, who Egyptian prosecutors alleged entered Egypt through tunnels from the nearby Gaza Strip and took part in prison breaks, according to The New York Times.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the ruling “a crime against the Palestinian people,” Haaretz reported.
Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, took power in 2012. One year later, following widespread protests demanding his removal, Morsi was ousted in a military operation.
After Morsi was removed from power, the government began a major crackdown on political dissent, killing or arresting thousands of people, including many supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Last month, in a separate case, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison for the killing of protesters in 2012.