Egyptian prosecutors investigate Morsi and associates
Financial assets of 14 senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders are frozen
Mohamed ElBaradei, a leader of the National Salvation Front (left) shakes hands with interim Egyptian president Adly Mansour after being sworn in as vice-president in Cairo yesterday. Photograph: AP Photo/Egyptian Presidency
Egyptian prosecutors yesterday froze the financial assets of 14 senior Muslim Brotherhood leaders and began investigating deposed president Mohamed Morsi and his associates on charges of breaking out of prison, inciting violence against protesters, insulting the judiciary, and damaging the economy.
The assets of supreme guide Mohamed Badie and his deputy Khairat al-Shater, a multimillionaire businessman, are said to be affected.
The allegations make it clear Mr Morsi and his entourage will not be freed until the investigations are concluded although the US, Germany and human rights bodies have pressed for their release.
EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the 28-member bloc was watching events unfold in Egypt with “deep concern”.
The initial focus of the inquiry is the escape by Mr Morsi, who is being held incommunicado at an secret location, and 34 Brotherhood members from Wadi Natroun prison north of Cairo during the 2011 uprising that ousted former president Hosni Mubarak. While Egyptian security forces were accused of freeing thousands of inmates from prisons all over Egypt, a court found the escape from Natroun was conducted with the aid of the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Shia Hizbollah movements.
The moves against the Brotherhood coincided with the swearing in as vice-president of Nobel laureate Mohamed ElBaradei. Founder of the Constitution Party and the most eminent figure in the mainstream National Salvation Front, Mr ElBaradei is regarded as the embodiment of the secular liberal-left political alliance.
Therefore, the coincidence of his induction with moves against Mr Morsi and his colleagues is seen as an indication that Egypt’s interim rulers have decided to adopt a hard, even exclusionary, line toward the Brotherhood.
Egypt’s prime minister Hazem El-Beblawi met with five candidates for posts in his proposed 30-member cabinet, some of whom will be hold-overs from the cabinet formed during Mr Morsi’s year-long tenure. Among the notable appointees is ambassador to Washington Nabil Fahmy as foreign minister.
Mr Beblawi also dismissed reports that subsidies on fuel and basic commodities would be abolished soon since this would harm the 40 to 60 per cent of Egyptians who live below the poverty level.