Egypt’s former president Mohamed Morsi yesterday appeared before Cairo’s criminal court, facing a re-trial in the so-called “communicating with Hamas” case.
The session was headed by Counsellor Mohammed Shirin Fahmi, with the prosecution charging Morsi – along with 23 others – with crimes including communicating with foreign organisations in order to commit terrorist acts and disclosing defence secrets to a foreign state. Morsi is also accused of financing terrorism, assisting the Muslim Brotherhood and committing acts that undermine Egypt’s independence, unity and territorial integrity.
Morsi was Egypt’s first democratically elected president following a popular uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in 2011, in what came to be known as the Arab Spring. However in 2013, one year in to Morsi’s rule, his defence minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi led a military coup against him. Al-Sisi was elected president in 2014 amid a controversial election marred by a crackdown on opposition.
Since the coup, Morsi’s supporters and dissidents in general have been subjected to mass arrests, political trials, prolonged pre-trial detention, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial extermination. The post 2013 period is widely considered by observers to be the most severe crackdown on opponents in Egypt’s modern history.
Human rights groups have repeatedly lambasted the Egyptian government for its treatment of Morsi and other political prisoners, who they say are being held on trumped-up charges.