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Egypt charges secularists alongside Mursi in new case

Source: Reuters - Sun, 19 Jan 2014 15:11 GMT
Author: Reuters
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(Corrects first paragraph to make clear not all the other accused are liberals)

CAIRO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi was on Sunday ordered to stand trial for insulting the judiciary, legal sources said, alongside 24 others including liberal activists who opposed his Islamist rule but have also been critical of the new army-backed order.

It is the fourth case brought against Mursi since he was ousted by the army last year, after a year in power, following mass protests against his rule.

But it also points to the growing pressure faced by the secular-minded activists who helped to topple Hosni Mubarak in 2011, and have criticised both Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood when it was in power and the new military-backed authorities.

The non-Islamists charged in the case include former members of parliament Amr Hamzawy and Mostafa El Naggar, as well as Alaa Abdel Fattah, an activist blogger detained since November and already facing trial on charges of protesting without permission.

The charge of insulting the judiciary carries a jail term of up to three years.

Mursi has already been charged with inciting violence and conspiring with foreign militants against Egypt.

Egypt's army-backed interim government has waged a determined campaign of suppression against the Brotherhood, which it has labelled a terrorist organisation. The security forces killed hundreds of its supporters in the weeks after Mursi was overthrown, and arrested thousands more.

The government accuses the Brotherhood of turning to violence. The Brotherhood, once Egypt's best-organised political and religious movement, which won five consecutive elections, denies any links to violence and accuses the army of staging a coup.

Mursi is next due in court on Jan. 28, when he goes on trial on charges related to a mass jailbreak in 2011.

The interim government is pushing ahead with a political transition plan that should lead to presidential and parliamentary elections this year, with army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi seen as a likely candidate.

Egyptians passed a new constitution in a referendum last week with a 98.1 percent "yes" vote, according to official results. The vote was boycotted by the Brotherhood. (Writing by Michael Georgy and Sameh Bardisi; Editing by Tom Perry and Kevin Liffey)

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