Morsi trial over Egypt jailbreak set for Jan 28

Cairo University students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans at the university's campus in Cairo on Dec 29, 2013. Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi and 130 others, including Hamas members, w
Cairo University students supporting the Muslim Brotherhood and deposed President Mohamed Morsi shout slogans at the university's campus in Cairo on Dec 29, 2013. Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi and 130 others, including Hamas members, will go on trial on Jan 28 over a jailbreak during the 2011 uprising, judicial sources on Jan 2, 2014. -- PHOTO: REUTERS

CAIRO (AFP) - Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi and 130 others, including Hamas members, will go on trial on Jan 28 over a jailbreak during the 2011 uprising, judicial sources said on Thursday.

The prosecution said last month there were a total of 132 defendants, all of whom were also accused of murdering police officers.

It said almost 70 of the defendants belonged to the Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and Lebanese Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

The trial, set to begin exactly three years after the prison break, will be the third for Morsi on various charges, amid a crackdown on his Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement following his July ouster by the army.

Prosecutors claim that Brotherhood, Hamas, Hezbollah and jihadist militants attacked prisons and police stations during the first few days of the revolt against Hosni Mubarak, killing policemen and helping thousands to escape.

Several Hamas and Hezbollah prisoners escaped during the unrest.

At least two of the Hamas inmates, including militant leader Ayman Nofal, have been indicted, the prosecution sources have said.

Another escapee, a Hezbollah commander named Mohamed Mansur who was convicted in 2010 of plotting attacks in Egypt, has also been charged.

Also among the defendants are Brotherhood leaders who escaped from Wadi Natrun prison during the revolt, and prominent Qatar-based cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi.

On Thursday, interior minister Mohamed Ibrahim accused Hamas officials of providing "logistical support" to Islamist fighters in Egypt for launching attacks in favour of the Brotherhood, "particularly during the presidency of Morsi."

He further charged that Hamas, which rules the Palestinian Gaza Strip, took fighters there to "train them in the use of heavy weapons." Morsi is already on trial for allegedly inciting the killings of opposition activists during his one year in power.

And he is being tried separately for espionage involving Hamas.

Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was removed from power following massive street protests against his rule.

Last week, authorities designated the Brotherhood as a "terrorist" group and accused it of a bombing north of Cairo that killed 15 people. The group denied the accusation.

The designation carries harsh penalties for offenders, including possible death sentences for the movement's convicted leaders and five-year jail terms for protesters.

Promoting the Brotherhood either in writing or verbally can now also lead to prison sentences.