Amnesty International yesterday called for ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to receive a fair retrial in a civilian court in line with international standards or to be released.
The watchdog described Morsi’s 20 year jail term a “travesty of justice” which demonstrates, once again, that the Egyptian criminal justice system appears to be “completely incapable of delivering fair trials” for members or supporters of the former president’s administration and the Muslim Brotherhood.
The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Morsi and 12 Muslim Brotherhood members to 20 years in prison each on charges relating to the killing and torture of protesters in 2012.
“This verdict shatters any remaining illusion of independence and impartiality in Egypt’s criminal justice system,” said Hassiba Hadj Sahraoui, deputy Middle East and North Africa director at Amnesty International.
The organisation said the Egyptian authorities did not give Morsi a chance at a fair trial, describing his detention as “enforced disappearance”.
“Any semblance of a fair trial was jeopardised from the outset by a string of irregularities in the judicial process and his arbitrary, incommunicado detention. His conviction must be quashed and the authorities must order a full retrial in a civilian court or release him,” it said.
For months after he was ousted on 3 July 2013, security forces detained Morsi and his aides “incommunicado” in conditions amounting to an “enforced disappearance”, Amnesty explained, adding that during this period, he was questioned by prosecutors without a lawyer present, violating his rights under Egypt’s constitution and international law.
“His legal team were only able to obtain a copy of the 7,000-page case file after making a substantial payment just days before the trial began on 4 November 2013,” it noted.
In addition to yesterday’s sentencing, Morsi is scheduled to appear in court on 16 May to face charges of “communicating with foreign parties” and “escaping” from prison during the revolution that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
If found guilty he faces the death penalty.
The former president is also on trial in two other cases: collaborating with Qatar and insulting the judiciary. The hearings will begin on 23 May.