Egypt charges secularists alongside Mursi in new case
Ousted Islamist President Mohammad Mursi and 24 others including liberal activists who opposed his rule were ordered to stand trial for insulting the judiciary on Sunday, Reuters cited legal sources as saying.
Mursi is already facing three separate trials on various charges, including inciting the murder of his opponents, conspiring with foreign groups and organizing jailbreaks - all of which can carry the death penalty.
His trial based on charges related to the mass jailbreak in 2011 is the only case that has opened thus far. It is due to resume on Jan. 28.
The former president was ousted by a popularly-backed military coup on July 3 after only one year in power.
The non-Islamists charged in the case include former members of parliament Amr Hamzawy and Mostafa el-Naggar, rights lawyer Amir Salem, as well as Alaa Abdel Fattah, an activist and blogger detained since November, already facing trial on charges of protesting without permission.
TV personality Tawfiq Okasha, known for lambasting revolutionary groups, the military, and the Muslim Brotherhood, is also included in the 24 defendants.
The charge of insulting the judiciary carries a jail term of up to three years , according to the Associated Press.
Lawyer Ahmed Seif said the charges against the defendants is an early test to Egypt’s newly adopted charter, which bars imprisonment in libel or slander cases.
“This is putting society in a very early state of contradictions, with an article in the charter that goes against an existing law. What do we do?” Seif told the Associated Press.
While the Egyptian government accuses the Brotherhood of turning to violence, the organization, once Egypt’s best-organized political and religious movement which won five consecutive elections, denies any links to violence and accuses the army of staging a coup.