Mohamed Morsi, who was toppled from the Egyptian presidency in 2013, is sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole for the killing of protesters in December 2012.
The sentence comes almost three years after he was voted into power in Egypt’s first democratic election. The ruling, broadcast live on state television, is the first against the Muslim Brotherhood leader since he was toppled in a military coup in 2013 following mass protests.
He was sentenced along with 12 other members of his Muslim Brotherhood party on a number of charges, including violence, kidnapping and torture related to the killing of protesters during demonstrations against his rule in 2012. The group were acquitted of murder so avoided the death penalty.
Seen behind a cage in the court, the group chanted “God is greatest” and made a four-finger salute signifying resistance to the crackdown on the Islamists, as judge Ahmed Sabry Youssef read his decision. The Muslim Brotherhood immediately condemned the sentences and the entire legal proceedings.
Amr Darrag, a former minister under Mohamed Morsi, said: “His trial has been a travesty of justice, which has been scripted and controlled by the government and entirely unsupported by evidence. They want to pass a life sentence for democracy in Egypt.”
Following the fall of Hosni Mubarak in 2011 after mass protests against his rule, Morsi spent a troubled year in power. His attempts to solidify his position by granting himself sweeping new powers over the judiciary were bitterly contested by a liberal population alienated by some of his policies and that of the Brotherhood.
Protests erupted in late 2012 after Morsi issued a presidential decree that critics said effectively placed him above the law. He gave himself authority to replace the prosecutor general in an attempt to sideline a judiciary that his supporters said was still packed with Mubarak appointees intent on derailing the fragile political transition.
The demonstrations led to the deaths of protesters, which prosecutors argued Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders were responsible for. Morsi and his co-defendants denied the charges and can appeal.
Morsi has said that he is determined to reverse what he calls a militant coup in 2013 staged by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the then army chief who is now president.