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Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood calls Morsi verdict biased

Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi, sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday for violence, kidnapping and torturing protesters in 2012
Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi, sentenced to 20 years in prison on Tuesday for violence, kidnapping and torturing protesters in 2012 Reuters

The 20-year jail sentence handed to ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi on Tuesday after he was found guilty of kidnapping, torturing and killing demonstrators in 2012 was biased, says a spokesperson in exile.

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“He doesn’t care about the court. He’s always saying he’s not recognising this court, this court is not a legitimate court, and all this accusations against the legitimate president is illegitimate accusations and charges,” Mohammad Al-Soudan, a spokesperson for Morsi’s Freedom & Justice party in Leeds, UK, told RFI.

Morsi’s lawyers reportedly said they would appeal the verdict. He was acquitted of murder but sentenced for abuses against protesters, including kidnapping and torture.

Morsi was removed by the Egyptian military in 2013 and replaced by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the current leader of Egypt.

But while the Egyptian judiciary has been accused of political bias, Timothy Kaldas, a non-resident fellow of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy  in Cairo says that judges made sure this trial had some semblance of legitimacy amidst all the reported blunders in the investigation.

“There is a valid concern there and there’s a desire to hold people accountable for those crimes but simultaneously there is a clear double standard in the way that other crimes had been pursued of this nature against protesters by the current regime, as well as the government under [Hosni] Mubarak,” says Kaldas.

While Morsi’s Brotherhood calls him a victim of a biased judicial system, the facts of the case are not so one-sided.

“It’s about balancing the fact that real crimes were committed, people were detained and abused within the presidential palace. There are a number of credible reports of violence and even torture of protesters who were detained by Brotherhood supporters,” says Kaldas.

Human Rights Watch has called previous trials earlier this month a “sham proceeding”,  including the 14 men who were condemned to death and an additional 37 others were jailed all had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

The former president, who was up for the death penalty in this latest case, received 20 years. Al-Soudan says he’s surprised at the verdict.

“Actually I was expecting the death sentence but I believe that the coup regime are still afraid of the action on the street. And you know that Mr Morsi and his advisers have been charged with many things.”

Morsi himself is up for two more trials one for allegedly escaping prison during a 2011 popular uprising, when jailers reportedly opened the doors for everyone to leave, and a second trial for espionage. Those verdicts are expected next month.

So is this the end of the Muslim Brotherhood?

 “They will not give up, they will still resist this kind of coup d’état in Egypt … they are victims of this coup,” says Al-Soudan.

The Muslim Brotherhood called on their followers to take to the streets of Egypt. Kaldas does not believe this will happen.

“Undoubtedly some people will likely protest but will the protests be of a substantial scale? I highly doubt it, to be honest with you.”

He says there has been a Brotherhood protest decline in the past two years.

“The government has been very effective in intimidating protesters by the use of force and by issuing extremely harsh sentences against protesters who are arrested," he points out. "There are a number of people a bit more reluctant to take those risks, given how severe the consequences have become in comparison to the past."

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