’s Court of Cassation has overturned a death sentence issued against ousted President Mohamed Morsi and ordered a retrial, judicial officials say.
Egypt’s first democratically-elected president was sentenced to death in June 2015 on charges of participating in prison breaks and violence against policemen during the 2011 uprising which toppled former dictator Hosni Mubarak.
In its Tuesday ruling, the Court of Cassation also quashed the death sentences of five other leaders of Morsi’s now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group, including its leader Mohamed Badie, in the same case.
The court further struck down life sentences passed in the same case against 21 Muslim Brotherhood members.
While the new ruling spares him from the threat of execution, Morsi is serving three lengthy jail sentences totaling 60 years in addition to a life sentence.
In December 2012, Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison without parole on charges related to the killing of protesters. He was further sentenced to 40 years on charges of spying for Qatar
and handed a life sentence on charge of spying for Hamas.
Morsi was immediately arrested after being overthrown in mid-2013 by President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi who was the head of Egypt’s armed forces at the time.
In June 2014, Sisi won the subsequent presidential election and began a campaign to crush the Muslim Brotherhood. The group was later blacklisted as a terrorist organization in a bid to prevent its affiliates from running in elections.
Since Morsi’s ouster, thousands of protesters have been sentenced to jail by civilian and military courts. According to human rights bodies, the clampdown has led to the deaths of more than 1,400 people and arrests of 22,000 others, hundreds of whom have been sentenced to death in mass trials.
Human rights groups, meanwhile, have slammed the regime under Sisi for what they see as aggressive policing and the reversal of fragile gains since the country’s 2011 uprising.
According to New-York based Human Rights Watch, Sisi has presided over a “state of impunity that has allowed security forces to get away with mass killings while imprisoning hundreds of peaceful protesters.”
US-based non-governmental organization Freedom House has described Egypt’s courts a “tool of repression rather than a pillar of justice.”