CAIRO: The Tuesday sentencing of former President Mohamed Morsi comes as no surprise to many lawyers; many expected he would be found guilty at least in the case of killing protesters in December 2012, which was ruled on today.
“Of course I expect a sentence against Morsi,” Mohamed Farouk, a lawyer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI,) told The Cairo Post in January.
“Republican Guard officers testified that he ordered them to disperse the protests, even though they did not say that prior to his ouster,” said Farouk, who defends the families of the victims in the case. The term, however, was not expected to amount to 20 years.
There are five other pending lawsuits filed against Morsi. He is charged with colluding with foreign armed groups to escape from the Wadi Al-Natroun prison Jan. 30, 2011, and with spying on behalf of Hamas and Qatar, and sending them sensitive security information about Egypt. On May 23, he will attend the first hearing in the case of “insulting the judiciary,” and his fraud case for promising the people a project that “did not exist,” which the Muslim Brotherhood called al-Nahda (the Renaissance.)
But for the case of inciting violence outside the Ittihadiya palace, leading to several deaths, the prosecution had at its disposal a much wider array of evidence.
On Dec. 4-6, 2012, protests broke out around the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace in Heliopolis against the constitutional declaration Morsi issued Nov. 22, 2012. Reporter Mostafa al-Husseiny was killed during the protests, triggering considerable public outcry.
Videos of protesters being beaten and interrogated by supporters of the Brotherhood in the vicinity of the palace circulated on media and social networking websites. Media, activists, and some of the public called the supporters “Brotherhood militias.”
According to Farouk, dozens of protesters were injured in the events and nine protesters were shot to death, but only the families of three filed lawsuits.
Although lawsuits were filed immediately after the incidents, they were only referred to the court after the ouster of Morsi on July 3, 2013, under a new attorney general.
Late on Dec. 4, 2012, police forces withdrew from outside the palace and did not clash with the protesters. However, confrontations between the protesters and Brotherhood supporters ensued.
On Dec. 5, 2012, Morsi dismissed former Minister of Interior Gamal al-Deen, replacing him with Mohamed Ibrahim.
On Dec. 6, 2012, Morsi delivered a speech accusing the protesters outside the Ittihadiya Palace of being “thugs,” before any investigations had been carried out.
“In his speech, Morsi used information provided by his supporters, not by security services, which means he knew about the extrajudicial detentions and interrogations [by Morsi supporters] taking place outside the palace. That is striking evidence.” Farouk said. Morsi would not have known about these detentions and interrogations by his supporters unless he had been directly informed by these same supporters.
Taher Abou el-Nasr, a legal adviser at ANHRI and a lawyer of the victims in Morsi’s case, spoke to The Cairo Post about the police’s attitude under Morsi, said no police officers have been charged in any of Morsi’s cases.
The commissioner of the Heliopolis Police Station filed an official report on an incident that further incriminates Morsi and the other defendants in the case, Abou el-Nasr said. The officer wrote that members of the Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Brotherhood, who refused to identify themselves, arrived at the station during the events with beaten protesters they had arrested, according to Abou el-Nasr.
“They wanted an officer to detain the protesters, and he officially documented the incident in complete abidance by the law and cooperation with the prosecution,” Abou el-Nasr said.
Families of the victims did not protest outside the court since Morsi’s trials began, according to both Abou el-Nasr and Farouk. Only a few people sometimes came to appear on TV to express their support to then-Minister of Defense Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, now the president, Abou el-Nasr said.
Although pro-former President Hosni Mubarak protesters were allowed to express solidarity outside the court, even when it lead to clashes between them and families of protesters who died during the January 25 Revolution, Morsi supporters have been prevented from approaching the court where Morsi is tried.
Pro-Morsi protesters organized demonstrations in different governorates on Nov. 2, 2013, which marked the first session of Morsi’s trial. On Nov. 24, interim President Adly Mansour issued a controversial protest law which requires protesters to obtain in advance permits from security services. Since then, thousands have been arrested per the regulation.