Egypt’s Court of Cassation overturned on Tuesday a life sentence against former president Mohamed Morsi on charges of espionage with Palestinian group Hamas.
The court also dropped death sentences against senior Muslim Brotherhood officials, including Khairat Al-Shater and Mohamed Al-Beltagi, as well as the life sentence handed down to the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, Mohamed Badie. A retrial has been ordered for all the defendants.
Last week, another life sentence previously handed down to ousted Islamist president Morsi was also overturned and a retrial was ordered.
During the 2011 revolution, Egypt’s Morsi and members of the Muslim Brotherhood escaped from Wadi al-Natroun prison. Charges were brought against Morsi and other defendants for damaging and torching prison buildings, murder and attempted murder of prison guards and looting.
While Morsi has never publicly given his account of the Wadi el-Natroun prison break, the former president had made a phone call to Al-Jazeera Mubasher TV as he was being freed. In the interview, Morsi claimed that prison guards fled after they failed to regain control of the environment.
During the trial, prosecutors had called the prison break as one of Egypt’s biggest ever conspiracies, saying that hundreds of foreign elements had been involved in prison breaks across Egypt in coordination with the Muslim Brotherhood.
More than 20,000 inmates escaped from Egypt’s prisons during the 18-day revolution in 2011, say prosecutors. Prosecutors also alleged that 800 Hamas and Hezbollah members had entered Egypt through Gaza to carry out three prison breaks.
Despite the allegations, Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood have said local residents, and not foreign elements, had been responsible for the prison breaks.
Morsi, who was deposed on July 3 after mass protests against his government, had won Egypt’s first free democratic elections since former Hosni Mubarak was toppled in 2011.