Ex-interior minister Mahmoud Wagdy testifies in Morsi's 'jail break' trial

El-Sayed Gamal El-Deen, Wednesday 23 Apr 2014

Former minister says forces from the Gaza Strip invaded Egypt and helped break out Muslim Brotherhood figures from jail, including ousted president Mohamed Morsi

Mohammed Morsi
File image made from video provided by Egypt's Interior Ministry shows ousted President Mohammed Morsi, right, speaking from the defendant's cage as he stands with co-defendants in a makeshift courtroom during a trial hearing in Cairo, Egypt. (Photo: Reuters)

Former interior minister Mahmoud Wagdy gave his testimony on Wednesday in the trial of deposed president Mohamed Morsi on charges of breaking out of Wadi Al-Natroun prison during the January 2011 uprising.

Wagdy, who was appointed by former president Hosni Mubarak 11 days prior to his ouster, claimed that "Egyptian borders were raided from Gaza" and that "factions on four-wheeled vehicles and motorcycles entered and destroyed all that is linked to the police in [Sinai's] Al-Arish".

He confirmed that former spy chief Omar Soleiman told him that the prison break of Wadi Al-Natroun was planned in advance.

The former minister further accused members of Hamas, an ideological off-shoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, of kidnapping three police officers in Sinai during the 25 January revolution.

He added that phone calls between Brotherhood leaders and Ramadan Shalah, an official from Hamas, were traced by the ministry. However, when the judge asked Wagdy about the identity of the Brotherhood leaders, he replied that "he couldn't remember".

The trial was adjourned to 30 April to continue hearing more testimonies.

The session also saw disputes between Brotherhood leader Mohamed El-Beltagy and the judge after the defendant was not granted permission to ask Wagdy a question.

Brotherhood member and former MP Sobhy Saleh complained of the sound-proof glass cage where defendants spent the session, arguing that it was the same as being tried in absentia.

"We can't hear what's going on in the session and we're deprived of all our rights," said Saleh.

Morsi and 130 co-defendants are accused of "carrying out a plot to bring down the Egyptian state and its institutions."

The charges are linked to the escape of inmates, including some senior Brotherhood figures such as Morsi, from Wadi Al-Natroun prison during the early days of the 2011 revolution.

Prosecutors have charged the defendants with damaging and setting fire to prison buildings, murder, attempted murder and looting prison weapon depots while helping prisoners from Gaza's Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah along with jihadists, Brotherhood members and other criminals to break out of jails.

Prosecutors allege that over 800 fighters from Gaza infiltrated Egypt during the 2011 uprising and used RPGs and heavy armaments to storm three prisons, abduct four policemen and kill several other policemen and inmates.

Hamas has condemned the accusations as being absurd and politicised.

Among the 131 defendants in the trial, 70 are Palestinians being tried in absentia, some of them alleged Hamas members.

However, many Palestinians have accused Egyptian authorities of fabricating the allegations, insisting that some of the listed Palestinian defendants are either dead or were in Israeli prisons during the uprising.

Morsi, who was removed from power by the army in July 2013 amid nationwide protests against his year-long rule, also faces a number of other charges in separate trials, including espionage and inciting the murder and torture of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.


Short link: