Egypt court sentences 11 Islamists to life over espionage with Hamas


An Egyptian court on Wednesday sentenced 11 Muslim Brotherhood leaders to life in prison on charges of espionage with the Palestinian group Hamas.

The 11 defendants include the head of the outlawed Muslim Brotherhood, Mohamed Badie, and group leaders Khairat al-Shater, Saad al-Katatni, Mohamed al-Beltagi and Essam al-Erian.  

The Cairo criminal court also sentenced three co-defendants to 10 years in prison and two others to seven years.

The court dropped charges against former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi in the same case due to his death.

Morsi, who became Egypt's first democratically elected leader in 2012 before being deposed in a military coup the following year, died on 17 June after he collapsed during a court session in Cairo.

In June 2015, the Cairo Criminal Court issued death and life imprisonment sentences against Morsi and other key figures in the Muslim Brotherhood over charges of spying with Hamas.  

However, in November 2016, Egypt's top appeals court annulled the verdicts and ordered a retrial of the defendants.

Last week, the Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Badie and 10 other defendants to life on charges related to mass prison breaks at the height of the 2011 popular uprising.

The charges are related to the escape of 20,000 people inmates, including members of the brotherhood, the Palestinian group Hamas and Lebanon's Shia Hezbollah group. Since Morsi's ousting in 2013, hundreds of Islamists and opposition figures have been detained and sentenced to prison.    (dpa)

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