In the first verdict to be issued against Egypt's first freely elected leader, ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi has been sentenced to 20 years in prison over the killing of protesters in 2012. As the sentence was issued, Morsi and other defendants in the case—mostly Muslim Brotherhood leaders—stood in a soundproof glass cage inside a makeshift courtroom at Egypt's national police academy. Seven of the accused were tried in absentia. In addition to Morsi, 12 Brotherhood leaders and Islamist supporters were also sentenced to 20 years. The judge dropped murder charges involved in the case and said the sentences were linked to the "show of force" and unlawful detention associated with the case.
During the hearing, Morsi and the rest of the defendants in white jumpsuits raised the four-finger sign symbolizing the sit-in at the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque, where hundreds were killed when security forces violently dispersed the sprawling sit-in by Morsi's supporters on Aug. 14, 2013. Morsi faces several more trials on charges including conspiring to break militants out of prison during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak, conspiring with foreign groups to commit terrorist attacks in Egypt, and passing state secrets to Al Jazeera, the BBC reports. From his exile in Istanbul, top Muslim Brotherhood figure Amr Darrag called the ruling "a sad and terrible day" for Egypt. "They want to pass a life sentence for democracy in Egypt," he said.