EU denounces Morsi verdict, Ankara to take case to UN
ANKARA / BRUSSELS
“The court decision to seek the death penalty ... was taken at the end of a mass trial that was not in line with Egypt’s obligations under international law,” said the EU’s top diplomat Federica Mogherini in a statement late on May 17.
Mogherini said Egypt must guarantee defendants’ right to a fair trial and to an independent investigation, adding that the EU believes the sentence will be revised upon appeal.
“The EU opposes capital punishment under all circumstances. The death penalty is cruel and inhumane,” she said.
Turkish presidential spokesperson İbrahim Kalın also called on Egypt to halt the verdicts, claiming that these sentences would drive the entire Middle East into further chaos.
“We are continuing our consultations firstly with Saudi Arabia, Qatar and other Gulf countries. We are reviewing current mechanisms for international initiatives. We plan to start necessary initiatives soon … primarily at the U.N. Human Rights Committee,” Kalın said on May 18.
The verdict against Morsi will not be final until June 2. All capital sentences in Egypt are sent to the country’s top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion, and they are also subject to legal appeal.
Morsi was among more than 100 defendants ordered by a court on May 16 to face the death penalty for their role in a mass jailbreak during the 2011 uprising.
He ruled for only a year before mass protests spurred the then-army chief and now President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi to overthrow him in July 2013.
A government crackdown under el-Sisi has seen hundreds of Morsi’s supporters killed, thousands jailed and dozens sentenced to death after mass trials, which the United Nations has described as “unprecedented in recent history.”
Speaking on May 17, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan called on the international community and EU to impose sanctions on Egypt after the verdict.
“Hey, Europe! Hey, West! Wasn’t the death penalty prohibited there? So why are you silent? Why do you side with Sisi? I call on the entire world, international institutions: Why don’t you impose sanctions?” Erdoğan said during a public rally in the Central Anatolian town of Kayseri.
“What has been done against Morsi and his friends is not acceptable. The world is in self-denial by keeping silent. If you say ‘democracy and election,’ you should see that this verdict is a sentence given to elections, democracy, and national will,” he added.
‘You can’t threaten me with Morsi verdict’
During a public rally in Samsun on May 18, Erdoğan continued his strongly worded criticisms against the Doğan Media Group over its coverage of the Morsi verdict on the website of its flagship newspaper, Hürriyet.
“They are trying to scare me through the sentence given to Morsi. I will speak openly to you. I will speak every day. Because I know these media group and this ‘parallel structure’ very well,” he said.
Erdoğan argued that media groups threatened he would be toppled during the Gezi protests of 2013, just like Morsi was ousted in a military coup in 2013.
“Now they are repeating this threat through the death penalty. We say democracy, we say freedoms. What they have in their mind is May 27 [Turkey’s 1960 coup d’état), Sisi, and [Syrian President Bashar] al-Assad,” he said.
“Hey, Doğan Media Group! You can’t go anywhere with this. You are forgetting something. Turkey is not the old Turkey anymore. It now has a state that is fully integrated with its people,” Erdoğan said.
Meanwhile, the United States expressed alarm on May 17 at the death sentences in Egypt, saying it has “consistently spoken out against the practice of mass trials and sentences.”
The verdict of the jailbreak case raised many questions, said Mustafa Kamel al-Sayyid, political professor at Cairo University.
“Morsi was a detainee and not a prisoner when the revolution against Mubarak erupted. So for someone who is not condemned and detained illegally to get out of a prison is not a crime,” al-Sayyid said.
“Also, how can he [Moris] plot attacks when he himself was detained? The court listened only to those who are accusing him,” he added.