x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Egypt’s Brotherhood chief in court as new trial begins

Mohammed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, appears alongside 14 other members of the movement to face charges of inciting violence that led to deadly clashes in July.

Egyptian army tanks are positioned outside Turah prison during the trial at the police institute in Cairo. Khaled Desouki / AFP
Egyptian army tanks are positioned outside Turah prison during the trial at the police institute in Cairo. Khaled Desouki / AFP

CAIRO // The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood chief, Mohammed Badie, yesterday attended the first session of his second trial, his lawyer said, marking his first public appearance since he was arrested last August.

Mr Badie, the Brotherhood’s Supreme Guide, appeared alongside 14 other members of the movement to face charges of inciting violence in the Cairo neighbourhood of Bahr Al Aazam that led to deadly clashes in July, his lawyer, Mohammed Damaty, said.

“All 15 defendants including Badie attended the trial today,” Mr Damaty told reporters outside a Cairo police academy where yesterday’s session was held.

Other senior Brotherhood officials in the dock included Essam Al Erian and Mohammed Al Beltagui, he said. The trial was adjourned until February 11.

Mr Badie and his two deputies, Khairat Al Shater and Rashad Bayoumi, are already being tried on separate charges related to the deaths of protesters who stormed the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters on June 30.

Mr Badie was not present at the two sessions held so far of his first trial.

Mr Damaty slammed yesterday’s hearing as “political” in nature.

“There is no proof that they (defendants) have committed the crimes that they are accused of,” he said.

Mr Badie has denied that the Brotherhood acted violently, according to the BBC.

“Why aren’t you investigating the killing of my son, and the burning of my house and the group’s offices?” Mr Badie asked of the judge, referring to his 38-year-old son who was killed in August, when the crackdown on the group was at its bloodiest

Several Muslim Brotherhood leaders and members including Mr Badie have been put on trial as part of a massive crackdown by Egypt’s new military-backed authorities against the movement following the army’s ouster of former president Mohammed Morsi.

Mr Morsi himself belongs to the Brotherhood movement, which a Cairo court banned in September.

Security forces launched a sweeping crackdown on Mr Morsi’s supporters in August, violently dispersing two protest camps in the capital.

More than 1,000 people have been killed since Mr Morsi’s removal -- mainly his supporters -- and the authorities have arrested thousands more, mostly supporters of the Brotherhood.

Mr Morsi is on trial for his alleged involvement in the deaths of protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.

Mr Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was removed from power on July 3 after millions of people took to the streets to demand his resignation, accusing him of betraying the revolution that brought him to power.

Yesterday, police fired tear gas in clashes with pro-Brotherhood students at Cairo’s Al Azhar University who hurled stones and torched vehicles during a demonstration in support of Mr Morsi, officials said.

Violence in and around the university’s dormitory erupted when a few hundred students began protesting and poured onto nearby streets, security officials said.

Four civilian and two police cars were set ablaze by protesters, who also threw rocks at police, according to security officials.

The interior ministry said police fired tear gas to disperse the students and push them back into their dorms.

Another security official said 58 “rioting students” had been arrested.

Protests in support of Mr Morsi have largely been confined to universities in recent weeks as security forces have cracked down on demonstrations elsewhere in the city.

It was the second consecutive day of protests by students of Al Azhar University, who have been holding regular demonstrations since the start of the academic year in September. The rallies have frequently deteriorated into clashes with police.

Last month, 12 students were sentenced to 17 years and fined for participating in protests and clashes on the campus.