A Cairo court has passed death sentences on several Muslim Brotherhood leaders. In the same case of alleged conspiracy with foreign groups, ex-president Mohammed Morsi and 16 others got jail terms.
Morsi was sentenced to 25 years jail on Tuesday as Egypt awaiting the court's verdict in another case against the ex-president and 106 Brotherhood supporters over a mass jail break in 2011.
That was during an uprising that toppled long-time ruler, Hosny Mubarak.
Last month, the court had referred the jailbreak case to Egypt's chief Islamic legal authority, the Grand Mufti, for his opinion on potential death sentences.
Western leaders then appealed to Egyptian authorities to rethink the penalty.
Morsi and Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie were convicted of kidnapping and killing police officers during that breakout.
Death penalties for alleged conspiracy
Among Tuesday's conspiracy case verdicts, the court issued death sentences against other Brotherhood leaders named as Khairat el-Shater, Mohamed el-Beltagy and Ahmed Abdelaty.
Death verdicts were also issued against a dozen other accused but in absentia.
The defendants had been accused of spying on behalf of the international Muslim Brotherhood organisation and Hamas from 2005 to August 2013 "with the aim of perpetrating terror attacks in the country in order to spread chaos and topple the state."
Alongside Morsi, the court also imposed long jail terms on Brotherhood spiritual guide Mohamed Badie and more than a dozen others.
Crackdown by al-Sisi
Morsi became Egypt's first democratically elected president - after Mubarak's ouster - but was overthrown in 2013 by the army.
Its head Abdel Fattah al-Sisi was subsequently elected president.
Authorities then cracked down heavily on Morsi supporters, leaving at least 1,400 people dead and more than 40,000 in custody, according to Human Rights Watch.
The crackdown has also extended to secular and leftwing activists, who spearheaded the 2011 revolt against Mubarak. Dozens have been jailed under a law that bans all but police-sanctioned demonstrations.
ipj/jil (Reuters, dpa, AFP)