Morsi to Stand Trial for Role in Prison Escape


Morsi to Stand Trial for Role in Prison Escape

By  and MARWA NASSER
Published: December 21, 2013

CAIRO — An Egyptian judge on Saturday ordered ousted President Mohamed Morsi to stand trial on charges that he colluded with foreign militants in an elaborate plot to free prisoners and “spread chaos” during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak.

It was the second time in less than a week that the Egyptian authorities had charged Mr. Morsi with capital crimes, in what appeared to be an escalating effort by the military-backed government to eradicate Mr. Morsi’s Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood.

The indictments have amplified longstanding accusations by the Brotherhood’s opponents that the movement has been plotting with militants with the Palestinian group Hamas to destabilize Egypt. Prosecutors have yet to offer any detailed evidence for the allegations, and human rights workers have described the plots as far-fetched. Mr. Morsi is facing a third trial on accusations that he incited the killing of protesters when he was president.

The latest charges center on Mr. Morsi’s escape from Wadi Natroun prison in early 2011 during the 18-day uprising against Mr. Mubarak, when large numbers of prisoners escaped.

Mr. Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders were imprisoned there in the early days of the uprising, when Egyptian officials were blaming the Brotherhood for the popular revolt. At the time, Mr. Morsi said he was broken out of his cell by people he did not know, including some who appeared to be other inmates.

In a statement on Saturday, the judge, Hassan Samir, accused Mr. Morsi and more than a hundred other people — including senior Brotherhood officials and members of Hamas and of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah — of carrying out “hostile” acts, including kidnapping police officers, using heavy weapons and stealing poultry from jails.

The statement also appeared to highlight the selective nature of prosecutions by Egypt’s judiciary. The judge accused the defendants of seeking to “destroy the Egyptian state and its institutions” — at a time when millions of protesters were trying to topple Mr. Mubarak’s government. Reda Marai, a lawyer with the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, called the charges “highly politicized” and said a fact-finding committee had previously found that the prison was not stormed by anyone.

And the tone of the judge’s accusations, which suggest a foreign role in the 2011 uprising, is also troubling, Mr. Marai said. “This brings back the memory of the narrative that was spread to defame the revolution,” he said. “This is exactly the same talk as Mubarak.”

Source: New York times

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