Egypt's ousted president Mohammed Morsi will face the death penalty over passing state secrets and a mass jail break in 2011, a court ruled on Saturday.
All death sentences must first be sent to the Grand Mufti, Egypt's highest religious authority, for his opinion on whether they should stand. Convictions are still open to appeal, even if the Grand Mufti gives his approval.
Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison last month for inciting violence against protesters.
With this sentence, Morsi has been condemned for violence during the 2011 Arab Spring-inspired protests against former President Hosni Mubarak. Meanwhile, Mubarak himself avoided charges in a trial over the deaths of anti-government protesters during the 18-day revolt that toppled him. Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison over corruption charges.
On Saturday, the court was presented with two cases against Morsi and other defendants. In the first case, Morsi and 130 others, including dozens of members of the Palestinian Hamas movement and Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah group, were accused of escaping from prisons and attacking police during the 2011 uprising against Mubarak.
In the second case, Morsi and several Brotherhood leaders were accused of conspiring with foreign powers, Hamas and Iran to destabilize Egypt.
In a speech on Saturday, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Egypt was going back to old Egypt, the one before the Arab Spring. “The West still does not take any action against Egypt’s coup leader el-Sissi.”
The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and the Palestinian Hamas movement condemned the court's verdict against Morsi and called on the international community to take action.
"This is a political verdict and represents a murder crime that is about to be committed, and it should be stopped by the international community," Amr Darrag, co-founder of the dissolved Freedom and Justice Party, the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood, told Reuters in Istanbul.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Anadolu Agency, "It is a politicized case, and the verdict has tainted the record of the Egyptian judiciary."
Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was overthrown in July 2013 following a coup and a military takeover by current president, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who was then the Chief of Staff of the Armed Forces under Morsi. The coup came a day after protests across the country called on Morsi to resign. He had only been the head of the state for 10 months.
Morsi's removal was followed by a major crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood party. The party was banned and labeled a terrorist organization by Egypt's new regime. The coup was followed with massive protests by Morsi's supporters, which the junta regime responded to with violent crackdown where hundreds were killed, and thousands arrested.
Since el-Sissi seized control of Egypt, Human rights groups have accused his government of widespread abuses in a crackdown on Brotherhood supporters as well as secular activists