Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has termed an Egyptian court’s death penalty on ousted elected President Mohamed Morsi as a capital punishment against democracy.
Speaking in Istanbul at an international youth event Saturday, Erdogan criticized the death penalty against Morsi. "If Morsi is given death sentence today, this is indeed a capital punishment against the ballot box," he said.
He called on the international community, mainly the Western world, to take a stance against the Cairo court’s decision and criticized their silence over the issue.
"The European Union, the West, have you not abolished the capital punishment? If you have, do you have any sanctions against those who implement it? What are you waiting for? Why are you still silent?” the Turkish president asked.
Erdogan also made a reference to the detrimental effects of the July 2013 military coup by incumbent Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi against the Morsi administration, saying: "What collapsed with the coup is not only the Egyptian democracy, but the whole world that has pinned their hopes on democracy."
Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically-elected president, was ousted by the country’s military in July 2013 after only one year in office, following mass protests against his rule.
An Egyptian court Saturday referred 122 out of 166 defendants, including Morsi to the country's grand mufti to consider possible death sentences against them over charges of jailbreak and espionage charges.
Morsi's family did not attend Saturday's trial session, citing "their rejection of the legitimacy of the trial."
He is the first president to be referred to the country’s grand mufti in Egypt's history. The opinion of the mufti is non-binding, but Egyptian law makes it necessary for judges to seek a religious point of view on any death sentence.
Last month, Morsi and 12 codefendants were sentenced to 20 years in prison each for allegedly mobilizing supporters to “intimidate, detain and torture” dozens of anti-Morsi protesters during clashes outside eastern Cairo's Ittihadiya presidential palace in December 2012.
Morsi currently faces multiple criminal trials on charges that include espionage and “insulting the judiciary,” charges he says are politically motivated.
Since Morsi's ouster, Egyptian security forces have launched a relentless crackdown on dissent that has targeted both Islamists and secularists, leaving hundreds dead and thousands behind bars.
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