The final recommendation in the death sentence handed down to Mohammed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was postponed Tuesday by a Cairo court. The verdict has now been deferred to June 16.
Morsi, along with top leaders of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group, was sentenced to death last month in connection to a 2011 prison break. However, as part of the country’s legal process for death sentences, the ruling was referred to the Grand Mufti, Egypt's top religious authority, in order to get a non-binding opinion on the ruling. Presiding judge Shaaban el-Shami explained that the court received the Grand Mufti's opinion only Tuesday morning and needed more time to discuss it, Reuters reported.
Morsi, who can appeal the verdict, has reportedly criticized the court's proceedings as illegitimate, stemming from a coup by former army chief and current President Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, who was sworn into office last June. Morsi was ousted by the country's military in 2013. He was handed a death sentence for charges related to the 2011 Arab Spring, which ousted Hosni Mubarak, then dictator of Egypt. Morsi was accused of helping foreign militants to free Islamists during mass prison breaks that year.
In April, Morsi and 12 other defendants were sentenced to 20 years in jail, for ordering the arrest and torture of protesters in conflicts outside the presidential palace in December 2012.
Morsi’s death sentence ruling was met with sharp criticism by governments around the world. The United States, along with Turkey and Amnesty International, condemned the court verdict.
“We are deeply concerned by yet another mass death sentence handed down by an Egyptian court to more than 100 defendants, including former president Morsi,” an unnamed State Department official reportedly said at the time.