CAIRO — A Cairo court sentenced ousted president Mohamed Morsi to death Saturday on charges of conspiring with foreign militants to break out of prison during Egypt’s uprising four years ago.
The verdict, which can be appealed, marks a stunning blow to the pro-democracy revolt that saw thousands of Egyptians rise up against an increasingly corrupt police state.
Security forces had arrested Morsi, a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, during the 18-day rebellion in 2011, and he escaped from prison several days later. He was then elected president in the country’s first free and fair democratic elections in 2012, before Egypt’s military ousted the Islamist leader in a dramatic coup a year later.
Saturday’s verdict appeared to criminalize the events of the 2011 uprising against the regime of Hosni Mubarak, alleging that Morsi and fellow Islamists conspired with Hamas and Hezbollah operatives to escape incarceration and stage a violent revolt against the state.
More than 100 other defendants, most of whom were tried in absentia, were also sentenced to death on the same charges. In a separate case, 16 defendants were given the death penalty for allegedly leaking state secrets to Iran while Morsi was in power. The presiding judge did not sentence Morsi in that case, postponing a final verdict until next month.