Egypt's Morsi faces death sentence, but decision tempered by risk of greater violence

Morsi faces charges of inciting murder of protesters, espionage and escaping prison.

April 19, 2015 10:09
1 minute read.
Mouhamad Morsi

Mouhamad Morsi. (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Egyptian courts are weighing a death sentence for the country's ex-president, Mohamed Morsi who, among other charges, has been indicted for inciting the murder of protesters who opposed his year-long rule.

According to AFP, Morsi can expect to know the nature of his sentence by Tuesday.

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Morsi also faces charges of spying for foreign powers and participating in the mass jail-breaks that were rampant in the wake of the 2011 revolution that toppled long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi, who in July of 2013 was ousted from power by the military strongman and sitting President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, belongs to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist organization which the Sisi government has attempted to erase through a sweeping crackdown in which 1,400 Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed and thousands jailed.

Earlier this month, 13 members of the Muslim Brotherhood, including its leader Mohamed Badie, were handed death sentences, a fate that experts say cannot be overlooked in Morsi's case.

According to Karim Bitar, from the Paris-based Institute of International and Strategic Relations, the nature of the evidence against Morsi will not necessarily be reflected in the sentence doled out to him.

"Justice is highly politicized and verdicts are rarely based on objective elements," he said.

Other voices, among them H. A. Hellyer of the Brooking Center for Middle East Policy, posit that killing the former president might carry serious consequences and that "the execution of Morsi would represent an escalation by the Egyptian authorities that they do not appear willing to engage in."

Cairo has been battling a Sinai based jihadist insurgency waged by an Islamic State offshoot group calling itself the Sinai Province, in reference to it's allegiance to ISIS chief al-Baghdadi's caliphate, that has spilled over into Egypt's major cities, including the capital.

The Sinai Province group, formerly or alternatively known as Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, has claimed responsibility for a litany of attacks on Egyptian security forces since 2011, including a Thursday attack on one soldier and an attack earlier this month that killed 15 security personnel and two civilians.

While they do not recognize the legitimacy of the Egyptian political system, the Sinai insurgency has used the the coup against the brief Islamist government as a recruiting tool and as an excuse for further attacks.

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