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Egyptian court adjudges Morsi to life sentence over Qatar links

EGYPTIAN COURT ADJUDGES MORSI TO LIFE SENTENCE OVER QATAR LINKS

A top Egyptian court upheld on Saturday a life sentence for ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in a case revolving around state documents leaked to Qatar

Egypt's highest appellate court on Saturday upheld a life sentence against Mohamed Morsi, the country's first democratically-elected president who was ousted in a military coup in mid-2013, according to a local judicial source.

The court also upheld death sentences handed down earlier against three other defendants, who, like Morsi, were convicted of spying for Qatar during Morsi's brief stint as president from mid-2012 to mid-2013.

The Court of Cassation ruling, which is final, overthrew a 15-year sentence for Morsi on charges of stealing the documents, handed during the initial sentencing.

But it upheld a life sentence -- 25 years in prison in Egypt -- on the charge of leading an illegal organisation, his lawyer Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsud told AFP.

The ruling came after lawyers appealed the initial 2016 sentencing.

In August of last year, seven defendants in the case, including the former president, lodged appeals against the sentences, which had been handed down two months earlier by the Cairo Criminal Court.

The trial hinged on accusations that the defendants had passed on state secrets to Qatar, an ally of Morsi's Islamist government that has denounced his 2013 overthrow by the military.

Qatar has denied the charges.

The case involves a total of 11 defendants (four of whom are being tried in absentia) charged with spying for a "foreign state" and affiliation with an "outlawed group" -- the latter referring to Egypt's banned Muslim Brotherhood of which Morsi had been a leading member.

A number of the defendants in the case had worked for Qatari news broadcaster Al Jazeera during or after Morsi's brief tenure in office.

In June of last year, the Cairo Criminal Court slapped Morsi with 40 years in prison for "spying for Qatar" -- a sentence tantamount to life behind bars.

The same court sentenced six other defendants (three of whom were tried in absentia) to death, while the rest received jail terms of varying lengths.

The 2013 coup was followed by a harsh police crackdown -- which remains ongoing -- on Morsi's supporters and members of his Muslim Brotherhood group, hundreds of whom have been killed and thousands more detained by the post-coup authorities.

Hundreds of Morsi supporters were killed during protests following his ouster. Thousands of others were detained in a crackdown that was later expanded to include leftist and liberal dissidents.

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