World Bulletin / News Desk
An Egyptian court on Saturday referred ousted President Mohamed Morsi and 105 co-defendants to the grand mufti, Egypt's top religious authority, to consider death penalty against them on jailbreak charges.
Morsi is the first president to be referred to the mufti in Egypt's history.
The opinion of the mufti is not binding to the court, but Egyptian law makes it necessary for judges to seek a religious point of view on any death sentence.
Egyptian authorities accuse Morsi and 130 others of taking part in a mass jailbreak during Egypt's January 2011 uprising that ousted autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.
Last month, Morsi and 12 co-defendants were sentenced to 20 years in prison each for mobilizing supporters in order to "intimidate, detain and torture" dozens of anti-Morsi protesters during clashes outside eastern Cairo's Ittihadiya presidential palace in December 2012.
Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was ousted by the military in July 2013 – after only one year in office – following mass protests against his rule.
He currently faces multiple criminal trials on charges that include espionage and "insulting the judiciary."
Morsi and his co-defendants insist the charges against them are politically motivated.
Since Morsi's ouster, the Egyptian authorities have launched a relentless crackdown on dissent that has largely targeted Morsi's Islamist supporters, leaving hundreds dead and thousands behind bars.