Muslim Brotherhood leaders, Mubarak face trial in Egypt

Mohamed Badie, aides face charges relating to July 30 protest; Egyptian appeals court ordered Mubarak's retrial.

hosni mubarak cage april 2013 370 (photo credit: Reuters)
hosni mubarak cage april 2013 370
(photo credit: Reuters)
CAIRO - Three leaders of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the movement's former arch-foe Hosni Mubarak faced separate trials on Sunday on similar charges of involvement in the killing of protesters.
With Egypt now under an army-installed government after last month's overthrow of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, local media seized on the symbolism of scheduling both sessions on the same day. "Trial of two regimes," headlined al-Shorouk daily.
In the end, Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's "General Guide", and his deputies did not appear at the opening of their trial for security reasons, a judicial source said. Citing their absence, the judge adjourned the proceedings until Oct. 29.
The case against Badie, Khairat al-Shater and Rashad Bayoumy relates to unrest before the army removed Morsi on July 3. Morsi has been detained in an undisclosed location since then.
More than 1,000 people, including about 100 soldiers and police, have died in violence across Egypt since Morsi's fall, making it the bloodiest civil unrest in the republic's 60-year history. Brotherhood supporters say the toll is much higher.
Mubarak, who left prison on Thursday after judges ordered his release, appeared in a courtroom cage in a wheelchair, wearing sunglasses and dressed in white, along with his jailed sons Gamal and Alaa and former interior minister Habib al-Adly.
After a hearing that lasted about three hours, the judge set the next session for Sept. 14, pending further investigation.
The former president was sentenced to life in prison last year for complicity in the killing of protesters during the 2011 revolt against him, but an appeals court ordered a retrial.
A helicopter flew Mubarak to the court in the Police Academy on the eastern outskirts of Cairo from a military hospital where he was placed under house arrest after his release from jail.
The government used a state of emergency it declared earlier this month to place Mubarak under house arrest, apparently to forestall any public anger if he had simply walked free.
The trial of the Brotherhood leaders signals that Egypt's new army-backed rulers intend to crush what they have portrayed as a violent, terrorist group bent on subverting the state.
The Brotherhood, which won five successive post-Mubarak votes, says it is a peaceful movement unjustly targeted by the generals who ousted Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader.
The military contends it was responding to the people's will, citing vast demonstrations at the time against the rule of a man criticised for accumulating excessive power, pushing a partisan Islamist agenda and mismanaging the economy.
Charges against Badie and his aides include incitement to violence in connection with an anti-Brotherhood protest near the group's Cairo headquarters on July 30 in which nine people were killed and 91 wounded. The 70-year-old Brotherhood chief was detained last week. Shater and Bayoumy were picked up earlier.
Pro-Morsi crowds staged small-scale marches on Friday, but the Brotherhood's street power appears to have faded due to the round-up of its leaders and the bloody dispersal of protest camps set up in Cairo to demand the president's reinstatement.
In a sign of confidence, the government on Saturday relaxed a night-time curfew it had imposed on Aug. 14 when the protest vigils were stormed. The curfew now starts at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) instead of 7 p.m., except on Fridays, when protests are common.
Morsi's return is not on the cards for now. The army has announced a roadmap for a return to democracy that involves overhauling the constitution adopted under Morsi in late 2012, with parliamentary and presidential elections to follow.
Changes proposed by a government-appointed legal panel would scrap last year's Islamic additions to the constitution and revive a Mubarak-era voting system. Islamists and liberals have expressed alarm about the suggestions.
Egyptian authorities arrested an Islamist militant on Sunday, saying he was close to the brother of al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahri and had supplied arms to Morsi's supporters.
Security sources said the authorities described the man, Daoud Khairat, as the "right-hand man" of Mohamed al-Zawahri, who was himself arrested in Egypt on Aug. 17. The Brotherhood denies using firearms and says it has no links to al Qaeda.
Earlier on Sunday, the army said it had captured five militants in Sheikh Zowayed, a town in North Sinai, saying they had been involved in attacks on security forces in the area.
A son of senior Brotherhood politician Mohamed al-Beltagi was also detained in the southern city of Beni Suef, the security sources said, in a continuing wave of arrests.