A court in Egypt has sentenced ousted President Mohamed Morsi and 18 leaders of the banned Muslim Brotherhood movement to three years in prison for “insulting the judiciary.”
The Cairo Criminal Court handed down its sentences to Morsi and 13 other defendants who were present in the court on Saturday, the former president’s lawyer, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud, said, adding that the remaining defendants were also handed the same sentences in absentia.
Egypt’s al-Ahram newspaper said on its online edition that the defendants, who included former members of parliament, activists and three journalists, were all accused of “insulting and cursing the judiciary and its judges using publications and statements to television and radio stations, as well as social media, using statements that carry slurs and hatred to courts and judicial authority.”
Morsi, who has already been sentenced to a total of 45 years in jail in two previous trials, was also ordered to pay 1 million Egyptian pounds (EGP), approximately $56,270, in cash fine. Five other defendants, including jailed activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, were fined 30,000 EGP (about $1,680) each.
The verdicts can still be appealed.
Morsi served as Egypt’s first democratically-elected president after the fall of former dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011. He was removed from office in a coup led by former head of the armed forces and current President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. Since Morsi’s ouster, tens of thousands of Brotherhood members have been arrested and prosecuted while senior party leaders face death or life sentences.
The crackdown on the Brotherhood has sparked widespread outrage around the world as rights campaigners and governments keep criticizing the Sisi administration for the collective imprisonment of the party members.
The post-Morsi crackdown has also affected many with alleged links to outlawed militant groups.