Egypt’s Grand Mufti has commuted the death sentence handed to the Muslim Brotherhood’s leader, Mohamed Badie, to a life sentence, reported Al Jazeera Saturday evening. A previously issued death sentence against Badie still stands.
The death sentences for five others were also reduced to life on Saturday by Shawki Allam, the country’s highest religious authority. Six others were sentenced to death in absentia.
Badie and the other defendants were sentenced to death on June 19 for the killing of police officers during a protest, but the verdict was rejected by the Mufti on August 7.
In an unusual move, prosecutors had asked the religious leader to reconsider his decision.
Referring to the Grand Mufti’s earlier ruling, one of the three judges in the case said the “Mufti said that, in his opinion, the court relied solely in the case on investigations that were not alone enough to condemn the defendants”.
Egyptian law requires any capital sentence to be referred to the Grand Mufti for an opinion before any execution can take place.
Badie had already received a confirmed death sentence in a separate case along with 182 supporters. An elected Muslim Brotherhood-led government was ousted from power by the army last year. The Brotherhood has since been listed as a “terrorist movement”, with much of its leadership imprisoned, including former president Mohamed Morsi. Its supporters have held protests against the government which replaced Morsi, often resulting in violence.
Morsi has been in jail since he was overthrown and is on trial for inciting the killing of opposition protesters in December 2012, outside the presidential palace.