The judge presiding over the trial of four policemen accused of killing 37 detained supporters of ousted president Mohamed Morsi stepped down from the case Monday in response to a recusal procedure by the defendants' lawyers.
In August, Egypt's interior ministry announced supporters of the Islamist president had been killed by asphyxiation due to teargas and “crowding" inside an inmate transfer vehicle, claiming they had attempted a jailbreak on their way to Abu-Zaabal prison north of Cairo.
The trial of the four police officers began in October.
The interior ministry had initially said an armed group attacked the Abu-Zaabal prison while a vehicle transferring some of the detained Brotherhood supporters was arriving in an attempt to free them and other prisoners. The ministry said that some of the perpetrators were shot and some of the prisoners inside the vehicle suffocated from teargas and a stampede.
The Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, described it as a "cold-blooded killing," holding the interim government responsible as well as army chief Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi, who announced Morsi's ouster in July.
Following the deadly dispersal of the two pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo in which hundreds were killed, the interim government launched a large-scale arrest campaign against supporters of the ousted president as part of an ongoing crackdown on the Islamist group and its allies. Thousands have been detained including top leaders of the Brotherhood.