CAIRO — The trial of the supreme guide of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and two of his deputies on charges of inciting violence started in their absence, as the Islamist group faces its toughest crackdown in over three decades.
In a separate case, former ruler Hosni Mubarak appeared in the court to answer charges relating to his role in the death of protesters in 2011, when a mass uprising led to his ouster and opened the door for the Brotherhood’s rise to power and its subsequent fall with the deposing of President Mohammed Morsi.
The start of criminal proceedings against Mohammed Badie, the Brotherhood’s top leader, along with Khairat el-Shater and Rashed Bayoumi, comes days after Mubarak was released from prison under a court order and moved to house arrest.
The case against the Brotherhood’s leaders is part of the military-backed government’s attempt to quash the Islamist organization and stabilize the country after clashes left nearly 1,000 people dead since Morsi’s July 3 ouster. Badie and other Brotherhood officials face allegations of inciting violence that led to the death of protesters outside the group’s headquarters in Cairo in July.
Badie, el-Shater and Bayoumi could face the death penalty if convicted. Four other Brotherhood members are also being tried for murder in connection with the death of the protesters.
Cairo criminal court Judge Mohamed el-Armouti adjourned the hearing until Oct. 29 and said the defendants, who were unable to attend the hearing due to security concerns, would be present at the next sitting. The hearing was aired on al-Hayat satellite channel.
Officials have termed the Brotherhood’s members as terrorists and broke up its sit-in camps on Aug. 14 in Cairo, triggering a week of clashes that claimed the lives of around 900 people and dozens of casualties in the security force.
Separately, Mubarak was freed from prison on Aug. 22 and moved to a military hospital. The Brotherhood claims that the interim government is intent on reviving the old regime.
Interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi told reporters yesterday the decision to place Mubarak under house arrest was taken for his own safety, and stressed the move to free him was taken by the courts and was not an attempt by the government to reinstate the old regime, the state-run Al-Ahram reported.
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