19 Jun 2016

Morsi given another life sentence

2:45 pm on 19 June 2016

Egypt's former president Mohamed Morsi has been handed another life sentence, after a court found him guilty of espionage and leaking state secrets.

Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi during his trial on espionage charges in Cairo on June 18, 2016.

Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi during his trial on espionage charges in Cairo. Photo: AFP

The leader of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood had already been sentenced in three other cases, including being given the death penalty for his involvement in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising.

Mohamed Morsi became Egypt's first democratically elected head of state in 2012, after the uprising forced his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, to resign.

However, Mr Morsi himself was removed by the army a year later, because of huge protests against a decree seen as giving him despotic power.

In the latest trial, the court acquitted him of charges of having supplied Qatar with classified documents but sentenced him to life for leading an unlawful organisation.

Six others on trial, including two journalists for the broadcaster al-Jazeera, were sentenced to death.

The two journalists were not in court and were sentenced in absentia.

Egyptian authorities have accused al-Jazeera of serving as the mouthpiece for the Muslim Brotherhood and for Morsi. Qatar backed the Brotherhood, and its ruling family partly funds the news channel.

The rulings, which can still be appealed, come against a background of scathing criticism of the Egyptian judicial system by international human rights activists.

Tens of thousands of people are believed to have been jailed by Egyptian authorities, most of them supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood, since Morsi was overthrown.

Three journalists from al-Jazeera, including the Australian Peter Greste, a former BBC correspondent, were arrested in 2013, and jailed for broadcasting false news following two trials in Cairo.

Their case caused an international outcry. All three men have since been released.

-BBC

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs