Egypt Court Strikes Down Ousted President's Death Sentence

Cairo (AP) -- An Egyptian court on Tuesday struck down the death sentence passed by a lower tribunal against an ousted Islamist president for his part in a mass prison break during the country's 2011 uprising.

The ruling by the Court of Cassation means that former President Mohammed Morsi would be given a new trial, along with five other leaders of his now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group, whose death sentences in the same case were also quashed.

The court also struck down life sentences passed in the same case against 21 Brotherhood members.

Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected president, is implicated in four lengthy trials pertaining to different cases against him, including the 2011 prison break during the uprising against his predecessor, Egyptian autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

For the prison break, Morsi had received the only death sentence so far.

Last month, a court upheld a 20-year sentence for Morsi on charges arising from the killing of protesters in December 2012. It was the first final verdict against Morsi, who was ousted by the military in 2013 after just one year in office.

Morsi is also appealing life sentences he received in the two remaining cases against him — one on espionage charges related to Qatar and the other on suspicion of conspiring with the militant Palestinian Hamas group that runs the Gaza Strip. Those appeal proceedings are pending.

Morsi's son, Osama, who is also one of his defense lawyers, welcomed the cancellation of the death sentence. "I am optimistic but I also don't expect much from politicized judiciary," he said.

He said his father has been in solitary confinement since 2013 and has been banned from any family visits or visits from lawyers.

"He lives in complete isolation," the younger Morsi said of his father.

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