Cairo, April 21 (IANS): An Egyptian court today sentenced Mohamed Morsi, who was ousted as President in 2013, to 20 years in prison for inciting the killings of protestors outside the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace in December 2012.
This is the first verdict issued against Morsi since his ouster on July 3, 2013.
However, Morsi and all other 14 defendants in the case were acquitted of committing premeditated murder and possessing weapons, Al Ahram daily reported.
Morsi and 14 others, including leading Brotherhood figures Mohamed El-Beltagy and Essam El-Erian, have been on trial over the 2012 Ittihadiya clashes. Ten people died and dozens were injured in clashes between pro- and anti-Morsi protestors outside the Ittihadiya presidential palace on December 5, 2012.
Morsi faced charges of inciting his supporters and aides to commit murder, use violence and illegally detain protestors and torture them.
El-Beltagy and El-Erian, in addition to Islamist preacher Wagdi Ghoneim who is at large, were accused of incitement to commit the aforementioned crimes. The rest of the defendants, including ex-presidential aides, were charged with committing the crimes themselves.
Morsi arrived by helicopter at the court inside the Police Academy on the outskirts of Cairo where his predecessor Hosni Mubarak, ousted in 2011, was also tried.
Morsi still faces four other trials: over charges of �collaborating with foreign organisations to commit acts of terrorism in Egypt�, leaking documents to Qatar, breaking out of prison in 2011, and insulting the judiciary during one of the trials, according to one of his defence lawyers, Montaser El-Zayat.
Morsi, formerly head of the Brotherhood�s political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, became the party�s candidate in the 2012 presidential election when the Brotherhood�s original first-choice candidate Khairat El-Shater -- also now in jail -- was disqualified by the Supreme Elections Committee.
Morsi won the election in a tense run-off with ex-premier Ahmed Shafiq, when many voters, though with some reluctance, saw him as the lesser of two evils against Shafiq, a face from Mubarak�s unwanted old regime.
Criticism of Morsi�s rule quickly began to surface, not only over the ambiguity of the Brotherhood�s influence on him, but also for his introduction of a constitutional declaration in November 2012 which immunised his decisions against judicial review.