Mursi trial over Egypt protester deaths set for Nov 4

CAIRO (AFP) - An Egyptian court on Wednesday set November 4 for the trial of Mohamed Mursi for inciting the murder of protesters, a move likely to further anger the ousted Islamist president's supporters.

Mursi and 14 others are charged over the killings of protesters outside his palace last December, seven months before his ouster in a military coup, the official Mena news agency reported.

The trial of Mursi is expected to inflame a protest movement by his Islamist backers, who clashed on Sunday with security forces in incidents that killed 57 people.

Prosecutors have charged Mursi, who has been held incomunicado since the July 3 coup, with "inciting his supporters to commit premeditated murder" during December 5 clashes outside his palace.

He will stand trial before a Cairo district court, Mena reported.

The December fighting erupted when Muslim Brotherhood supporters of the president dispersed a sit-in outside the palace by people angered over Morsi issuing a decree placing his decisions beyond judicial review.

Seven people were killed.

The Brotherhood claimed that most of those killed were Islamists, an assertion disputed by his opponents. At least one of the victims was an anti-Mursi journalist.

The co-defendants include several of the former president's aides and Brotherhood leaders, also in jail or on the run.

Following the July 3 coup, security forces launched an extensive crackdown on Islamists that has killed more than 1,000 people.

In September, a court banned the Brotherhood and ordered its assets seized, and there have been mass arrests of its members.

And on Wednesday, the ministry of social solidarity dissolved a non-governmental organisation linked to the Brotherhood, state media reported.

Much of the Brotherhood's leadership, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, are standing trial on other charges.

Hundreds of Islamist loyalists were killed on August 14 in clashes that erupted after security forces violently broke up two protest camps set up in Cairo.

Following on from the August 14 events, Islamists attacked dozens of Christian properties across the country, accusing the minority of backing the coup.

On Wednesday, London-based Amnesty International blamed the security forces for failing to prevent what it said were "revenge attacks" against the country's Coptic Christians.

Given previous attacks, particularly since Mursi's ouster, "a backlash against Coptic Christians should have been anticipated, yet security forces failed to prevent attacks or intervene to put an end to the violence", Amnesty International said in a report.

The upcoming trial is likely to further cement a stalemate between Mursi's supporters, who are demanding his release, and the new military-installed government.

Western mediators, including European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, had demanded Mursi's release as a goodwill gesture, but were rebuffed by the government, which accuses the Brotherhood of "terrorism".

More than three months after the coup and ensuing crackdown, the Brotherhood now appears intent on continuing sometimes violent protests in a bid to destabilise the new government.

The movement has called for more marches on Friday to head to Tahrir Square in central Cairo, in a repeat of protests last weekend.

Although the Brotherhood publicly demands Mursi's reinstatement, its leaders privately say they would settle for their leaders' release and that officials responsible for killing protesters be held to account.

Mursi, who ruled for one extremely divisive year before his popularly backed ouster, will be the second Egyptian president standing trial over the killings of protesters.

His predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, is on trial for complicity in the deaths of protesters during the 18-day uprising that forced him to resign in early 2011.

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