Egypt court sentences Mursi to 20 years in prison

Updated 22 April 2015
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Egypt court sentences Mursi to 20 years in prison

CAIRO: An Egyptian criminal court on Tuesday sentenced ousted Islamist President Muhammad Mursi to 20 years in prison over the killing of protesters in 2012, the first verdict to be issued against the country’s first freely elected leader.
The ruling, which can be appealed, reflects the dramatic downfall of Mursi and the drastic challenges facing Egypt since its 2011 uprising that forced longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power.
Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood group swiftly rose to power in elections after Mubarak’s ouster, only to find themselves behind bars a year later when millions protested against them for abusing power and the military overthrew the government.
But as Mubarak and members of his government increasingly find themselves acquitted of criminal charges, Mursi and the Brotherhood are at the receiving end of heavy-handed sentences.
During Tuesday’s hearing, Judge Ahmed Youssef issued his verdict as Mursi and other defendants in the case — mostly Muslim Brotherhood leaders — stood in a soundproof glass cage inside a makeshift courtroom at Egypt’s national police academy. Seven of the accused were tried in absentia.
In addition to Mursi, 12 Brotherhood leaders and Islamist supporters, including Mohammed el-Beltagy and Essam el-Erian, also were sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Youssef dropped murder charges involved in the case and said the sentences were linked to the “show of force” and unlawful detention associated with the case.
The case stems from violence outside the presidential palace in December 2012. Mursi’s supporters attacked opposition protesters, sparking clashes that killed at least 10 people.
During the hearing, Mursi and the rest of the defendants in white jumpsuits raised the four-finger sign symbolizing the sit-in at the Rabaah Al-Adawiya mosque, where hundreds were killed when security forces violently dispersed the sprawling sit-in by Mursi’s supporters on Aug. 14, 2013.
In past sessions, Mursi and most of the defendants turned their backs to the court when Youssef played several video recordings of the clashes outside the palace in 2012.
From his exile in Turkey’s capital, Istanbul, top Muslim Brotherhood figure Amr Darrag called the ruling “a sad and terrible day in Egyptian history.”
“They want to pass a life sentence for democracy in Egypt,” Darrag said.
Under the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who as army chief overthrew Mursi, Brotherhood members and Islamists have faced mass trials that end with mass death sentences, sparking international condemnation.
Mursi himself faces three other trials on charges that vary from undermining national security by conspiring with foreign groups and orchestrating a prison break. Thousands of Brotherhood members are in jail facing a variety of charges, most linking them to violence that followed Mursi’s 2013 overthrow.
Mursi is being held at a high security prison near the Mediterranean city of Alexandria. His incarceration there followed four months of detention at an undisclosed location.


One dead in new protests in southern Iraq: medical source

Updated 21 min 37 sec ago
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One dead in new protests in southern Iraq: medical source

Diwaniyah, Iraq: A man was killed Friday during a protest outside the headquarters of an armed group in southern Iraq, a medical source said, as authorities push to contain social unrest.
"A civilian around 20 years old was shot dead," a medical source in the city of Diwaniyah told AFP, as fresh rallies were held across southern Iraq against social and economic woes.
Shots were fired by a guard from the local headquarters of the Badr organisation, a powerful Iranian-backed armed group, where hundreds of people were protesting, the source said.
The latest death brings to nine the number of people killed in the protests, according to multiple sources, while authorities earlier this week said more than 260 security personnel have been wounded.
The unrest erupted in Basra province on July 8 when security forces opened fire, killing one person as protesters demanded jobs and basic services including electricity.
Others killed during the protests were shot by unknown assailants.
The Iraqi government swiftly denounced "vandals" it accused of infiltrating the protests.
The latest demonstrations saw thousands of people gathering across the south and also in the capital Baghdad, where a heavy security presence saw demonstrators dispersed by water canon and tear gas.
The crowds were broken up as they headed towards the fortified Green Zone, a high-security area of Baghdad where the government is headquartered.
In oil-rich Basra, people shouted slogans against the authorities as thousands gathered peacefully outside government headquarters.
Shouting "no to corruption", hundreds of people rallied in Nasiriyah, 160 kilometres (100 miles) northwest of Basra, chanting the anti-graft message which has characterised nearly two weeks of protests.
Demonstrators also surrounded the home of Nasiriyah's governor where security forces responded with tear gas.