EU latest to criticize Morsi death penalty referral
High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini criticized on Sunday the recent court decision to refer ousted Egyptian President Morsi to the Grand Mufti for the death sentence. (AFP/Emmanual Dunand)
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The European Union criticised on Sunday the recent court decision against former President Mohamed Mursi, adding that it was not streamlined with Egypt's obligations under international law.
"The court decision to seek the death penalty for former President Mohamed Morsi and more than 100 of his supporters, in connection with a mass jail break in 2011, was taken at the end of a mass trial that was not in line with Egypt's obligations under international law," Federica Mogherini, the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said in a statement.
On Saturday, the Cairo Criminal Court referred Mursi and 105 other defendants to the Grand Mufti to issue his opinion on handing them death sentences, for escaping from a prison. A referral to the mufti is a step that must be taken within Egypt's court system ahead of handing a death sentence.
"The Egyptian judicial authorities have the responsibility to ensure, in line with international standards, defendants' rights to a fair trial and proper and independent investigations," the statement added.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian State Information Services (SIS) said in an earlier statement that the defendants are not being tried in "exceptional courts" and that all litigation procedures are guaranteed in order to ensure that trials are fair, in response to international condemnation.
Mogherini's statement was preceeded by an earlier statement today by the United Kingdom's minster for the Middle East and North Africa, who voiced his government's "deep concern" over the court decision
UK Minister Tobias Ellwood's statement urged Egypt to "apply the rule of law consistently in line with international standards, and to protect the political and legal rights of all Egyptians as the basis for the country's future stability."
Several groups and countries were among the critics of Saturday's court decision, including the pro-Mursi Anti-Coup Alliance, the Palestinian Hamas movement, international watchdog Amnesty International, Turkey and the United States.
Following his ouster by the military in 2013, after mass protests against his rule, Mursi has since been accused of several charges and stood as defendant in various trials.
He still faces trial for insulting the judiciary, as well as a separate espionage case.
A Cairo court sentenced Mursi last month to 20 years of maximum security prison for charges of show of force and detention associated with physical torture during deadly protests in 2012. He was nevertheless acquitted of murder charges.
Since Mursi's ouster, Muslim Brotherhood leaders and prominent figures have often found themselves behind bars and facing courts. He and his support base consider the power change which saw his removal a coup.