Egyptian court overturns ex-president Mursi's death sentence

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s Court of Cassation on Tuesday overturned a death sentence against deposed president Mohammed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood and ordered a retrial.

Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Mursi greets his lawyers and people from behind bars at a court wearing the red uniform of a prisoner sentenced to death, during his court appearance with Muslim Brotherhood members on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt, June 21, 2015. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo

Mursi was sentenced to death in June 2015 in connection with a mass jail break during Egypt’s 2011 uprising.

Mursi, democratically elected after the revolution, was overthrown in mid-2013 by then-general Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, now the president, following mass protests against his rule, and immediately arrested.

Tuesday’s court ruling means that Mursi is no longer under threat of execution, although he is serving three lengthy jail sentences.

Since toppling Mursi, Sisi has clamped down on dissent. Mass trials have been held for thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters, and hundreds have received death sentences or lengthy prison terms.

Abdel-Moneim Abdel-Maksoud, the Brotherhood’s lawyer, said the Court of Cassation had applied the law correctly.

“The ruling was expected because (Mursi’s conviction) was legally flawed, and we are waiting for the retrial.”

Mursi is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for a conviction arising from the killings of protesters during demonstrations in 2012. He has also been sentenced to 40 years on charges of spying for Qatar and to life imprisonment on charges of spying for the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

The government deems the Brotherhood, Egypt’s oldest opposition movement dating back decades, a terrorist group. The Brotherhood says it is committed to peaceful activism.

Activists and rights groups at home and abroad have said many or all the mass trials have been legally flawed. The Egyptian government says the judiciary is independent and that it never intervenes in its work.

Reporting by Haitham Ahmed and Amina Ismail; Writing by Asma Alsharif; Editing by Kevin Liffey