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Egypt's former leader Morsi given death sentence in jailbreak case

Egypt's former leader Morsi given death sentence in jailbreak case
The decision by an Egyptian court to seek the death penalty for ex-President Mohammed Mursi and 106 others has provoked international condemnation.

Former Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi was sentenced Saturday by a Cairo court to death - the latest judicial setback for the ousted leader. He was convicted in a 2011 prison break.

Mursi's name, along with those of more than 100 other defendants, will be passed to the Grand Mufti, the highest legal authority in Egypt, who will have the final say on their sentence.

This was the harshest sentence that Mursi could have expected to receive in the case.

Muslim cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi has condemned the death sentences passed on himself, former Egyptian President Mohammed Mursi and 105 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood group over a mass jail break in 2011.

In a video statement posted on Qaradawi's twitter account on Sunday, the elderly Qatar-based cleric who is also a spiritual leader for the Muslim Brotherhood said the rulings were "nonsense" and violated Islamic law.

"These rulings have no value and cannot be implemented because they are against the rules of God, against the people's law...no one will accept it," Qaradawi said in the statement, which was broadcast by Al Jazeera's Arabic news channel in Qatar.

In line with all death sentences, the decisions issued on Saturday will be referred to the grand mufti, Egypt's religious authority, for a non-binding opinion. A final court ruling is expected on June 2.

The charges relate to Mursi's escape along with other Brotherhood leaders from a prison north of Cairo during the 2011 Arab Spring unrest. Qaradawi denied involvement in the escape in his video statement and said he was in Qatar at the time.

Turkey, the rights group Amnesty International, and Hamas have all criticized Egypt on Saturday for sentencing former President Mohammed Mursi to death.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned that Egypt was returning to “old Egypt.”

Erdogan also criticized western nations for not speaking out against Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah Al Sisi, who ousted Mursi, and for not condemning the death sentences being handed down to the former Islamist president’s Muslim Brotherhood group.

The United States joined Turkey and Amnesty International in condemning the court's decision to hand down the death sentence, the Guardian reported.

The U.S. is "deeply concerned" about the court's decision, a State Department official said on Sunday, according to the report. “We are deeply concerned by yet another mass death sentence handed down by an Egyptian court to more than 100 defendants, including former president Mursi,” the unnamed state department official reportedly said.

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