Morsi, Brotherhood leaders referred to Criminal Court

Ousted President Mohamed Morsi has been referred to the Criminal Court on charges of kidnapping Egyptian officers and illegally carrying arms in the Wadi al-Natrun prison escape case of 2011, local media reported on Saturday.

Investigative Judge Hassan Samir, who is working on the case, ordered Morsi’s referral to the criminal court alongside a number of Muslim Brotherhood leaders, including Mohamed Badie, the group’s supreme guide, his deputy Mahmoud Ezzat, Guidance Bureau members Mahmoud al-Beltagy, Essam al-Erian and Saad al-Hosseiny, and former People’s Assembly head Saad al-Katatny.

At least another 100 defendants are listed in the case, including members of the international Muslim Brotherhood organization, the Hamas group ruling Gaza and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah, according to the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm portal and other media reports. 

The judge’s report says communications were discovered between the Brotherhood and Ahmed Abdel Aty, of the international Brotherhood organization, who was based in Turkey. Abdel Aty, an Egyptian, was general secretary of the International Islamic Union of Student Organizations and was referred to military trial in 2006 alongside a number of Brotherhood leaders. 

The referral report says that the suspects “performed aggressive acts that affect the independence of the country, its unity and the safety of its lands. They killed and attempted to kill officers and soldiers, lit fires in government and police establishments, stormed prisons, stole the contents … including arms and ammunitions stored in warehouses, and helped prisoners escape.”

The report added that the Muslim Brotherhood was plotting with foreign groups to “destroy the Egyptian state so the group can divide it on religious bases.” The report refers to a widely believed allegation that the Brotherhood was preparing to cede parts of the Sinai Peninsula and annex them to the Gaza Strip to house Palestinians, an accusation steadfastly denied by the neighboring Hamas group.

Samir’s investigations have reportedly revealed that around the popular protests that ousted President Hosni Mubarak in January 2011, no less than 800 individuals entered Sinai from Gaza through tunnels and moved in an organized manner to three prisons, Abou Zaabal, Marg and Wadi al-Natrun, where they killed 50 officers and prisoners and let some 20,000 prisoners escape, including Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah members.

Prison escapes took place across the country around January 28, 2011, when mass protests forced the police to retreat. In a study published by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights in 2011, evidence collected from prisons (not including the three main prisons referenced in Samir’s investigation) shows a trend of prison guards opening fire on inmates and killing dozens. While the study didn’t focus on the Marg, Wadi al-Natrun and Abu Zaabal prisons, it does not corroborate the claim that the prisons were stormed as part of an outside plot.

In previous interrogations published in May by the privately-owned Al-Shorouk newspaper, inmates present in Wadi al-Natrun during the prison escape reported no storming of the prison by any group and said that the doors of the prison were opened on January 29 without any clashes and that inmates’ families arrived to help their relatives leave the prison. The interrogated inmates also said many prisoners were killed as they tried to escape, and were pursued by the police.

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