The Cairo Criminal Court sitting in Egypt has on Saturday sentenced 11 persons, including ousted President Mohammed Morsi to life in prison on charges of ‘allegedly’ leaking state secret documents to Qatar when he was in office.
Morsi, the case’s top defendant, and two of his aides were sentenced to 25 years in prison for espionage.
They were all accused of passing documents to Qatar.
Again, Morsi and his secretary, Amin el-Sirafy, each received an additional 15-year sentence for a lesser crime, while El-Sirafy’s daughter, Karima, was also sentenced to 15 years in prison – in Egypt a life sentence is equivalent to at least 25 years.
Morsi was ousted by the military in July 2013 and has already been sentenced to death in another case. That death sentence and another two — life and 20 years in prison — are under appeal.
All of Saturday’s verdicts can be appealed.
Six others on trial, including two al-Jazeera’s journalists were sentenced to death.
The two journalists were not in court and were sentenced to death in absentia.
The confirmation of the death verdicts came after the country’s chief Islamic legal authority, the grand mufti, approved them, as required by Egyptian law in cases involving death sentences.
The three other defendants sentenced to death on Saturday are documentary producer Ahmed Afify, EgyptAir cabin crew member Mohammed Keilany and academic Ahmed Ismail.
Qatar was a key ally of Morsi’s now-banned Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s relationship with Qatar have been fraught with tension since the ouster of Morsi, who enjoyed the support of the tiny but wealthy Gulf state.
Cairo also maintains that Al-Jazeera’s news coverage of Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East is biased in favor of militant Islamic groups.
Meanwhile, Human Rights group Amnesty International have condemned Saturday’s death sentences.
“While this outcome is appalling, it is sadly not surprising,” Magdalena Mughrabi-Talhami, the watchdog’s deputy director of the Middle East and North Africa Programme, said.
“Egypt’s broken and utterly corrupted justice system is now little more than a handy tool for the authorities’ repression of any vestiges of opposition or criticism,” she added in a statement.