Mr Morsi was sentenced for a mass jailbreak in 2011. He has previously been sentenced to 20 years in jail for ordering the arrest and torture of protesters during his time in power – a sentence that Amnesty International calls a “travesty of justice”.
Mr Morsi’s supporters say the charges against him are politically motivated and designed to give legal authority to the 2013 coup by the military, led by Egypt’s now president General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
“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, said.
Amnesty International agrees that the trial against the former president is politically motivated, saying: “One-sided justice is not justice at all.”
Mr Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood members were accused of escaping from prison and attacking police during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. Twenty seven defendants were on trial, with the rest being tried in absentia.
The death sentences will need to be ratified by Egypt’s top religious authority, the Grand Mufti.