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More legal battles for Egypt's ousted president

Prosecutors accused Morsi and other of conspiring to free 20,000 inmates across the country .

Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi. Picture: AFP.

CAIRO - Legal troubles persist for former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi after a Cairo court sentenced him to death.

The ousted president and 100 other Muslim brotherhood supporters were yesterday convicted of conspiring to break out of prison during Egypt's 2011 uprising.

The court's request drew condemnations from Amnesty International and Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.

A final ruling is expected on 2 June.

The court sought capital punishment in a separate case for Brotherhood leader Khairat el-Shater and 15 others for conspiring with foreign militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah against Egypt.

The rulings, like all capital sentences, will be referred to Egypt's top religious authority, the Grand Mufti, for a non-binding opinion.

Egypt's state information service said criticism of the ruling "reflects ignorance and lack of accuracy" and is an infringement on judicial independence.

Mursi can appeal the verdict. He has said the court is not legitimate, describing legal proceedings against him as part of a coup by former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in 2013.

Many other defendants are on the run.

US 'DEEPLY CONCERNED' OVER MORSI DEATH SENTENCE

The United States is "deeply concerned" about an Egyptian court decision to seek the death penalty for the former president, a state department official said on Sunday.

"We are deeply concerned by yet another mass death sentence handed down by an Egyptian court to more than 100 defendants, including former President Mursi," the State Department official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We have consistently spoken out against the practice of mass trials and sentences, which are conducted in a manner that is inconsistent with Egypt's international obligations and the rule of law," he said. The official, noted, however, that Saturday's death sentence ruling was "preliminary."

Despite US lawmakers' concerns about that Egypt is lagging on democratic reforms, Egypt remains one of Washington's closest security allies in the region.

Relations cooled after Morsi was overthrown by the military nearly two years ago, but ties with Sisi, his successor, have steadily improved.

In late March, US President Barack Obama lifted a hold on a supply of arms to Cairo, authorizing deliveries of US weapons valued at over $1.3 billion.