Egypt's Mubarak, brotherhood chiefs due in court

BY: Isaac Yeboah

Hosni Mubarak (85) is scheduled to appear at a hearing in his retrial.Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak returns to court Sunday to face charges over protester deaths, as Muslim Brotherhood leaders make their first appearances in court on similar but unrelated charges.

Separate hearings in different parts of the capital come against the backdrop of continued tension in the country, which has been rocked by political turmoil since the army ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in a July 3 coup.

Mubarak, who left prison for house arrest this week, is scheduled to appear at a hearing in his retrial on charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising that forced him to resign. The case is one of several against the former president, who was granted pre-trial release by a court.

Mubarak was placed under house arrest by interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi. The 85-year-old former president is being held at a military hospital in Cairo and it was not immediately clear if he would attend the morning hearing at the Police Academy.

Mubarak was convicted last June and sentenced to life in prison, but a retrial was ordered in January after he appealed. He could face the death penalty in that case, and is also facing charges in several corruption cases.

Meanwhile, Brotherhood supreme guide Mohamed Badie and two deputies --Rashad Bayoumi and Khairat al-Shater -- are to make their first appearance before another court on charges of inciting the murder of protesters.

Badie was taken into custody last week -- the first time a Brotherhood supreme guide has been arrested since 1981. Shater and Bayoumi were rounded up earlier, following the ouster of Morsi, a fellow Brotherhood member.

They are accused of inciting the murder of protesters who died outside their Cairo headquarters on the evening of June 30, when millions of Egyptians attended anti-Morsi protests. Another three Brotherhood members will stand trial with them, accused of carrying out the murders in question.

All six face the death penalty if convicted. Morsi, who is being held at an undisclosed location, faces charges related to his escape from prison during the 2011 uprising, as well as complicity in the deaths and torture of protesters.

The latter charge involves demonstrations against him outside the presidential place in late 2012. Sunday's hearings come after days of relative calm in Egypt, following a week of unprecedented bloodletting in the country that began on August 14.

That was when security forces moved to break up two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo, sparking clashes that left nearly 600 people dead across the country in a single day.

Additional violence followed in the days after, raising fears of prolonged bloodshed. But authorities have mounted a fierce crackdown against the Brotherhood and its allies that has thinned the group's ranks and sent many members into hiding.

Source: SABC