Egypt’s Morsi to stand trial in November

Deposed president charged with inciting torture and killing of protesters against his regime

The trial of Egypt's deposed President Mohamed Morsi, charged with inciting the torture and killing of protesters, has been fixed for November 4th. At least 10 people were slain in December 2012 while protesting outside Ittihadiya presidential palace against Mr Morsi's decree granting himself sweeping powers beyond judicial review.

Clashes erupted after Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood supporters attacked secular opponents of his assumption of unchecked authority. Fourteen other defendants, including his aides and senior Brotherhood figures, will also stand trial.

Mr. Morsi has been detained at a secret location since his ouster and arrest on July 3rd after mass rallies against his rule. Most of the senior Brotherhood leadership, including supreme guide Mohamed Badie and his deputy and strongman Khairat El-Shater were also imprisoned after security forces violently dispersed two Cairo sit-ins demanding Mr Morsi's reinstatement, leaving 900 dead.

The military-backed caretaker government that assumed office on Mr Morsi's removal appears determined to close down the Brotherhood, breaking with a six-decade old tradition of banning the 85-year-old movement while permitting it to raise funds, conduct 50 commercial enterprises, and operate schools, clinics and welfare programmes for the poor.


The Brotherhood’s status as a non-governmental organisation, granted in March this year, has been revoked following a court order to restore the ban on the movement and all of its institutions and activities.

Last month its assets were confiscated and a panel was appointed to manage its funds. An independent commission to monitor implementation of rulings has been proposed.

A panel of judges which advises the government on legal issues has recommended the dissolution of the Brotherhood’s political arm, the Freedom and Justice party.

Founded after the 2011 uprising that drove 30-year president Hosni Mubarak from power, the party won the largest number of seats in both houses of parliament in subsequent elections. The recommendation will be submitted to a Cairo court on October 19th, the date fixed for the resumption of Mr Mubarak’s trial for failing to prevent the killing of protesters during the uprising.

Assumption of power
The Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) is also in the process of extending control over mosques, imams, and Friday sermons. Authority over half of Egypt's mosques had been ceded to the Brotherhood after its assumption of power.

In an interview with daily Al-Masry al-Youm, Egyptian minister of defence and army chief Abdel Fattah El-Sisi justified the comprehensive crackdown on the Brotherhood, arguing that he had repeatedly told Mr Morsi to include the opposition in governance and resolve disputes with the judiciary, media, Coptic church, and Al-Azhar, the world's supreme Sunni religious institution.

Mr Morsi ignored warnings to meet these demands before June 30th ahead of planned mass demonstrations that brought him down.

Since then the Brotherhood has refused to accept his demission and staged constant demonstrations demanding his return to the presidency.

These demonstrations have often turned violent while Brotherhood supporters and radical fundamentalists have stepped up drive by shootings of soldiers and bombing attacks on security facilities.

Accused of supporting the removal of Mr Morsi, Christians have also been targeted. Amnesty International reported that there has been an “unprecedented wave of sectarian attacks” on Coptic churches, schools and properties and at least four murders. At gatherings of pro-Morsi supporters, speakers have incited against Copts who have been provided no protection by the state.

Michael Jansen

Michael Jansen

Michael Jansen contributes news from and analysis of the Middle East to The Irish Times