Egypt's first democratically-elected president Mohammed Morsi was jailed for two decades yesterday, charged in connection with deadly violence outside his palace in 2012.
Once one of the most powerful men in Egypt, Morsi stood in a glass encased cage as the sentence was read aloud. It was the first of five verdicts against the former Egyptian president. He could yet face the death penalty over accusations of espionage.
Morsi and 12 other defendants, among them senior officials in the Muslim Brotherhood, were sentenced to 20 years in jail for involvement in the arrests and torture of protesters during his rule.
But the court acquitted Morsi of murder charges that could have seen him sentenced to death over the killings of a journalist and two protesters during clashes outside his Cairo presidential palace in 2012. Human rights groups had repeatedly criticised a trial riddled with procedural flaws.
"Any semblance of a fair trial was jeopardised from the outset by a string of irregularities in the judicial process and his arbitrary, incommunicado detention," said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui of Amnesty International yesterday.
Abdul Monem Abdul Maqsoud, a lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood, said the verdict would be appealed but that the process could take months.
He did not know whether Morsi himself would request that the verdict be reconsidered. The Islamist leader has refused to recognise the authority of the court.
"We brought blue clothes to Dr Morsi today, anticipating all possibilities," said Mr Maqsoud, referring to the navy fatigues that prisoners must wear in Egyptian jails. To date, Morsi has only appeared in white. He arrived at the court complex in a helicopter, amid tight security. He has been in solitary confinement for almost a year and a half.
He was overthrown by Egypt's powerful army on July 3 2013, three days after millions of Egyptians spilled onto the streets to demand his resignation.(© Daily Telegraph, London)