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Morsi verdict alarms US, experts see 'war' on Brotherhood

CAIRO: The United States voiced alarm Sunday at death sentences handed to Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi and dozens of others, a verdict experts called a declaration of “total war” on his Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi was among more than 100 defendants ordered by an Egyptian court on Saturday to face the death penalty for their...

SAMAA | - Posted: May 17, 2015 | Last Updated: 6 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: May 17, 2015 | Last Updated: 6 years ago

CAIRO: The United States voiced alarm Sunday at death sentences handed to Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi and dozens of others, a verdict experts called a declaration of “total war” on his Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi was among more than 100 defendants ordered by an Egyptian court on Saturday to face the death penalty for their role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.

He ruled for only a year before mass protests spurred then-army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to overthrow him in July 2013.

Sisi won a presidential election in May 2014 backed by Egyptians tired of political turmoil in the world's most populous Arab nation following the 2011 revolt against longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Washington expressed concern over Saturday's verdict.

“We have consistently spoken out against the practice of mass trials and sentences, which are conducted in a manner that is inconsistent with Egypt's international obligations and the rule of law,” a State Department official said.

“We continue to stress the need for due process and individualised judicial processes for all Egyptians in the interests of justice.”

A government crackdown under Sisi has seen hundreds of Morsi's supporters killed, thousands jailed and dozens to sentenced death after mass trials which the United Nations has described as “unprecedented in recent history”.

On Sunday, prison authorities hanged six men convicted in a military court of participating in militant attacks on soldiers, following what Amnesty International labelled a “grossly unfair” trial.

Ties between Washington and Cairo had plummeted in the aftermath of Morsi's ouster, with President Barack Obama's adminstration freezing annual military aid of $1.5 billion to Cairo.

Most of the aid was unblocked in late 2014.

– 'War' against Brotherhood –

Judge Shabaan El-Shamy convicted Morsi, already sentenced to 20 years in jail in a previous trial, and more than 100 other co-defendants of plotting jailbreaks and attacks on police during the 2011 revolt.

Many of the defendants were Palestinians alleged to have worked with Hamas in neighbouring Gaza, and were tried in absentia.

Experts said the verdict underscored Sisi's vow to eradicate the 87-year-old Muslim Brotherhood movement, which topped successive polls between the fall of Mubarak and Morsi's presidential win in May 2012.

“The new regime of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is using all elements of the state to break the political will of the Muslim Brotherhood,” Fawaz Gerges, professor of Middle East studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science, told AFP.

“The judicial system is also waging an all-out war against the Muslim Brotherhood. This clearly reflects a total war waged by the Egyptian state against the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Rights groups accuse the authorities of using the judiciary to repress the opposition, primarily the Brotherhood, which was designated a “terrorist group” in December 2013. –AFP

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