Egypt court sentences 11 Islamists to life for prison breaks
CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced 11 people to life in prison — including the head of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie — after a retrial on charges related to mass prison breaks at the height of the 2011 popular uprising.
The retrial was related to a case rooted in the escape of 20,000 inmates from Egyptian prisons in Jan. 2011, early in the 18-day uprising that toppled longtime autocratic President Hosni Mubarak, who testified in the case in December. The verdict cannot be appealed.
The Cairo criminal court also sentenced eight others to 15 years in prison on the same charges, which include orchestrating prison breaks and undermining national security by conspiring with foreign groups: the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.
This is the latest of several life sentences for Badie. He’s also been sentenced to death in separate trials held after his arrest in 2013 following the military ouster of Egypt’s first democratically elected president, the late Mohammed Morsi, a Brotherhood leader, amid nationwide protests against his one-year rule.
Several mass trials of Islamists that yielded dozens of death sentences have been held in Egypt since Morsi’s ouster.
The trials and death sentences have consistently drawn scathing criticism from rights groups at home and abroad, which have branded the process as a mockery of justice. Tens of thousands of Egyptians have been arrested since 2013, and many had fled the country.
Morsi was a defendant in the prison-break case, but he collapsed in a courtroom and died while appearing in a separate trial in June.
Chief Judge Mohammed Sherin Fahmi dropped the charges against Morsi, who in 2011 escaped with other Brotherhood leaders two days after they were detained amid a crackdown by Mubarak’s security forces trying to undercut the planned protests.
The court also acquitted eight others.
In June 2015, the Cairo Criminal Court issued sentences of death and life imprisonment against Morsi and other key figures in the Muslim Brotherhood. However, in November 2016, the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s final recourse for appeals in criminal cases, annulled the sentence and ordered a retrial of the defendants.