A court in Egypt on Tuesday sentenced ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi to 20 years in prison for the 2012 killing of protesters while he was in power. The Cairo Criminal Court's decision on Tuesday, the first of three verdicts that are expected, came while Morsi and other defendants stood in a soundproof glass cage inside Egypt's national police academy, the Associated Press reported. While his first trial led to a prison sentence, Morsi could face the death penalty in his other two trials.
The first case comes from the massive protests that took place outside Morsi's presidential palace in December 2012. Morsi had ordered police to disperse the millions who called for him to vacate his seat, but state authorities refused. That's when the Muslim Brotherhood brought in reinforcements, resulting in violent clashes that left 11 people dead. The Muslim Brotherhood has since been banned, and thousands of Morsi supporters have been arrested. Twelve other Brotherhood leaders and supporters were also sentenced to 20 years in prison alongside Morsi.
BBC News reported Morsi also faces several verdicts from two other trials, which include charges of escaping from prison during the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions, committing espionage, conspiring terrorist acts, and endangering national security by leaking confidential state secrets to Qatar news agency Al Jazeera. Those verdicts are set to come in on May 16.
A member of the Muslim Brotherhood party, Morsi came to power as Egypt's first democratically elected leader after the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions saw the exit of longtime military leader Hosni Mubarak. But his time in power was marked by massive protests, and he was soon deposed. In an effort to eliminate his supporters, the country was thrown into deep throes of political violence. The new government designated the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization, and more than 1,400 people have been killed and thousands of others jailed, according to Agence France-Presse.
After he left Egypt's helm, Morsi disappeared with a number of other Muslim Brotherhood officials. For months, their whereabouts were relatively unknown until Morsi reemerged in court in November 2013. Upon identifying himself to the court, Morsi said, "I am Dr. Mohamed Morsi, and I am the President of the republic."
Egypt has struggled to find peace post-Arab Spring. Morsi's time as president, during which he gave himself unlimited powers, was a disaster, and since the military takeover in 2013, the country has suffered from insurgent attacks. While the Egyptian government accuses the Muslim Brotherhood of being behind the attacks, the group claims it's peaceful. Perhaps the final verdicts will close the Morsi chapter and allow the country to move forward.
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