Middle East

Egypt refers Brotherhood leader to a new trial

Relatives talk to Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood's members standing inside the defendants cage before the start of their trial on February 3, 2014 in the police institute near Cairo's Turah prison. AFP PHOTO / AHMED GAMIL

CAIRO: Egyptian prosecutors on Monday referred to trial the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood and 50 others on charges of inciting supporters to resist security forces during a deadly crackdown against them in August.

Supporters of ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi had camped out in an eastern Cairo district for nearly two months before police moved in to break up the sit-in protest, killing at least 600.

The prosecutors said Mohammed Badie, the group's spiritual leader, and his aides had planned to "bring down the state" and spread chaos by attacking police stations, state institutions, private property and churches to create the impression that the government had lost control of the country.

They also manufactured scenes of protesters being killed during the Aug. 14 dispersal of the Cairo sit-in, prosecutors alleged. They said Brotherhood members stole guns and ammunition from police stations and later used later to kill policemen.

Pro-Morsi protests included armed men and thugs paid to disrupt traffic and intimidate citizens, they added.

The Brotherhood has insisted that its protests were peaceful.

Badie and the Islamist group's top leaders, including Morsi, are already facing several trials on charges that mostly carry the death penalty.

The trials are part of the military-backed government's widening crackdown on the group and its Islamist allies. Thousands of the group's members have been jailed since Morsi's ouster in a July 3 military coup.

No date has been set yet for the latest trial, in which 19 of the 51 defendants remain at large.

The military-backed government has cracked down hard on the Muslim Brotherhood since Morsi's ouster, detaining thousands and designating the group a terrorist organization. It also blames the Brotherhood and its allies for a burgeoning militant insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula, as well as a string of terror attacks elsewhere in the nation.

In the latest fighting in Sinai, troops backed by helicopters raided suspected militants' hideouts in the northern part of the strategic peninsula on Monday, killing at least 20 and wounding 25, military officials said.

The officials said the sweep, which led to the arrest of 16 suspected militants, was among the biggest in an ongoing offensive against militants waging an insurgency in the area bordering the Gaza Strip and Israel.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief reporters.

The raids are part of an escalation of the fighting in Sinai.

On Friday, army aircraft pounded suspected militants' positions, killing 13 people. Late last month, militants, some of whom are linked to al-Qaida, shot down an army helicopter, killing all five men on board, suggesting the use of sophisticated weaponry.





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