International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

Mohamed Morsi, the deposed former president of Egypt, was sentenced to 20 years in prison with hard labor on the charges of “inciting violence and directing illegal detentions as well as torture.” The conviction was the first resulting from the four significant cases brought against Morsi since 2013, when he was ousted by the military. Morsi could also potentially face death penalty from results of other trials. This is a politically charged issue as all the defendants are either from Morsi’s regime or Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood.

While the news of the conviction may sound encouraging to some, I fear that there may be foul play involved. Morsi was tried and convicted in the national court system, which is clearly under and influenced by the military regime. As seen a couple weeks ago, Pakistanis just reversed the sentences handed down by its military courts against those convicted of a terrorist attack in a school in Peshwar. Leaving trials of such magnitude to military tribunes seem to inevitably result in the trials’ failure to meet international standards of fairness and due process. At this point, the defense lawyers of Morsi can still appeal the court’s decision, but appealing within the national court system seems rather futile.

While the ICC’s complementarity principle ensures the preservation of state sovereignty to a certain degree, it is true that stable governments are not the same as legally fair ones. Just because a state has a strong rule of law and can carry out these trials, it does not mean that the state is fit for such important trials.

The article can be found here.


2 responses to “Former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

  1. chquinn April 22, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    I agree with Jsqim that a trial for President Mohammed Morsi under the national court system comes with the risk of militant influence. However, I believe the course of action taken by the militant regime was the best option possible. I believe the reasons behind the coup were justified as Morsi overstepped his powers “by decreeing that his own decisions would be immune to judicial oversight until a new charter could be adopted.”(1) This was a huge red flag and resulted in “a boycott by liberals, secularists and the Coptic Church, who said it failed to protect freedom of expression and religion.” (2) This was followed by massive protest by both citizens and government officials who no longer supported Morsi. In such cases as this, I believe a coup is justified to prevent further government injustice. Morsi is also a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has since been labeled as a “Terrorist organization” due to its suspected involvement in terrorist attacks. Whether this is a legitimate claim is debatable due to political strife, but the issue should not be taken lightly. Although President Obama and the United States are not happy with the idea of a militant regime in power, they also have not condemned the coup and still continue to give billions of dollars in aid.
    While the military regime may have influence over the national court system, it is beneficial for the trial to be held in an Egyptian court. As we have seen in class, many citizens and country’s are unhappy when international courts impede on a countries judicial system. Also the fact that the court also acquitted Morsi on charges of permitted murder only legitimizes the courts attempt at a fair trial. Either way it will be interesting to see the outcome of the rest of the charges against him.


  2. tlunn April 23, 2015 at 2:14 pm

    I think that this indictment can reflect back on many things we’ve discussed over the course of the semester. I guess my first point of issue is that ICC intervention wouldn’t necessarily make things better. While Morsi would not be receiving the death penalty, as we saw in cases like Uganda, the ICC would have to work with the current Egyptian government. That would likely result in such victor’s justice, perhaps against even more members of the Morsi regime while those in the current, perhaps just as bad one get off free. That said, justice now in some way shape and form is better than nothing at all. If Morsi also walked free, not only would Egyptian citizens be rightfully upset, but so would the international community. If peace is not determent on how the proceedings go forward, something at all would likely be more beneficial than nothing. While politics have clear standing in the trial, it is important for Egyptian citizens to hear and see that people are getting tried for human rights abuses. As they continue to see them going forward, they might be able to stop them at earlier and earlier points.

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