CAIRO: An Egyptian court sentenced deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and more than 100 other defendants to death on Saturday over jail breaks during the 2011 uprising.
Morsi was in the caged dock when the judge read out his verdict.
Many of those sentenced were tried in absentia, including prominent Islamic cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi who resides in Qatar.
The country's first freely elected president was toppled by then army chief and now President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in July 2013 following mass street protests demanding the Morsi’s resignation after just a year in power.
His overthrow triggered a government crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood movement in which hundreds of people have died and thousands been imprisoned.
Defendants in both trials were brought into the caged dock on Saturday ahead of the verdict.
"We are free revolutionaries, we will continue the march," they chanted.
Morsi was not brought in yet, but Brotherhood leader Mahmud Badie, a co-defendant, was present wearing the red uniform of those convicted to death after a previous sentence.
Rights groups accuse Sisi's regime -- widely backed by Egyptians tired of years of political turmoil -- of using the judiciary as a tool to repress opposition.
Morsi was sentenced last month to 20 years in jail for inciting violence against protesters in 2012 when he was president, in a verdict Amnesty International denounced as a "travesty of justice".
On Saturday, a judge will issue verdicts in two other trials on charges that could mean the death penalty.
An initial death penalty verdict in a mass trial is usually confirmed at a later hearing after receiving the approval of the mufti, the official interpreter of Islamic law.
In Saturday's first case, Morsi and 130 others, including dozens of members of the Palestinian Hamas movement and Lebanon's Shia Hezbollah group, are accused of escaping from prisons and attacking police during the 2011 uprising against longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.
Twenty-seven defendants including Morsi are in custody, while the rest, including prominent Qatar-based cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, were tried in absentia.
Some 850 people were killed during the anti-Mubarak uprising as protesters rallied primarily against decades of police abuses.
Four years after that revolt, the Muslim Brotherhood has been blamed for most of the unrest in Egypt.
Sisi has vowed to eradicate the Brotherhood, an 87-year-old movement that topped successive polls between Mubarak's fall and Morsi's presidential election victory in May 2012.
The authorities designated it a terrorist group in December 2013, making even verbal expressions of support punishable by stiff jail terms.
In Saturday's second case, Morsi and 35 co-defendants, including Brotherhood leaders, are accused of conspiring with foreign powers, Hamas and Shia Iran to destabilise Egypt.
They are accused of providing the Islamic republic's elite Revolutionary Guards with security reports in order to destabilise the country.
Prosecutors say the defendants carried out espionage activity 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".
During Morsi's presidency, ties flourished between Cairo and Hamas, the Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood which controls neighbouring Gaza.
But Egypt's new authorities accuse Hamas of helping jihadists carry out attacks inside the country.
In addition to Saturday's verdicts, Morsi faces two other trials -- for insulting the judiciary, and spying for Qatar, a key backer of the Muslim Brotherhood.
'Return to ancient Egypt'
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday attacked the death sentence handed out by an Egyptian court to former president Mohamed Morsi, saying it was like a return to "ancient Egypt".
"The popularly-elected president of Egypt... has unfortunately been sentenced to death. Egypt is turning back into ancient Egypt," Erdogan said at a rally in Istanbul, accusing the West of "turning a blind eye" to the 2013 coup that ousted Morsi.
Amnesty International called an Egyptian court's decision to seek the death penalty for ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi "a charade based on null and void procedures" and demanded his release or retrial in a civilian court, Reuters reported.
The court sought the death penalty for Morsi and more than 100 supporters of his banned Muslim Brotherhood group in connection with a mass jail break in 2011.
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