Morsi mass trial death sentence alarms US and EU


The United States and Europe expressed alarm on Sunday at death sentences for Egypt's ousted president Mohamed Morsi and dozens of others, a verdict experts called a declaration of "total war" on his Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsi was among more than 100 defendants given the death penalty on Saturday for their role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising. He ruled for only a year before huge protests spurred then army chief and now President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi to overthrow him in July 2013.

Sisi won a presidential election in May 2014 backed by Egyptians tired of political turmoil in the world's most populous Arab nation following the 2011 revolt against long-time autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Washington expressed concern over Saturday's verdict, saying it has "consistently spoken out against the practice of mass trials and sentences". "We continue to stress the need for due process and individualised judicial processes for all Egyptians in the interests of justice," a State Department official said.

The European Union's top diplomat Federica Mogherini said the trial was flawed and that the bloc believed the sentence would be revised upon appeal. "The court decision to seek the death penalty... was taken at the end of a mass trial that was not in line with Egypt's obligations under international law," she said in a statement.

A crackdown under Sisi has seen hundreds of Morsi's Islamist supporters killed, thousands jailed and dozens sentenced to death after mass trials the United Nations called "unprecedented in recent history".

Ties between Washington and Cairo plummeted after Morsi was ousted, with President Barack Obama's administration freezing annual military aid of US$1.3 billion to Cairo. Most of the aid was unblocked in late 2014.

The foreign ministry denounced global condemnation of the verdict as "unacceptable interference in the internal affairs of the country".

Experts said the verdict underscored Sisi's vow to eradicate the 87-year-old Muslim Brotherhood movement, which topped successive polls between the fall of Mubarak and Morsi's presidential win in May 2012.    (AFP) articles on mass death sentences against the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt:

Egypt's future at risk

The breakdown of Egypt's legal system

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