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Egypt refers 48 Morsi supporters to court over violence charges

At least three people were killed in the events for which the defendants face trial: a journalist, a child and a Christian passerby

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Saturday 4 Apr 2015
Supports of the deposed President Mohamed Morsi
Supports of the ousted President Mohamed Morsi (Photo: Mai Shaheen)
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Egypt's top prosecutor on Saturday referred 48 alleged supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood group to court on charges of rioting and murder in relation to clashes in Ain Shams last year.

On 28 March last year supporters of the Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi held a protest in the eastern Cairo district of Ain Shams. The demonstration descended into violence and three people were killed: journalist Mayada Ashraf, Sherif Abdel-Raouf, a minor, and Mary George, a Coptic Christian.

The defendants, 35 of whom are in custody while the others are being tried in absentia, face charges of murder, attempted murder, leading a terrorist group, arms possession, preparing explosive devices and intentional sabotage to public property.

Following Morsi's ouster in 2013 his supporters continued to stage regular protests across the country to protest the Islamist leader's toppling and the arrest of their fellow supporters.

Protests often ended in clashes with the security forces or with local residents.

The Brotherhood was declared a terrorist organisation by the government after Morsi's ouster, and membership is therefore illegal. Subsequent court rulings in 2013 and early 2014 confirmed the decision.

A security crackdown on the group has left hundreds dead and thousands in jail.

Saturday's statement from the prosecutor's office said the leaders of the Brotherhood and its allied coalition, the National Alliance to Support Legitimacy, formed armed groups to act as the military wing of the "terrorist group." 

Prosecution allege that the armed group planned to spread chaos to "bring down the state", targeted journalists to stop them from reporting on their crimes and assaulted Christians to "tear apart the fabric of national unity."

Twenty-five of the defendants confessed to planning riots, possessing weapons and using them against civilians and police forces, the prosecution added.

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