New charges against Egypt's Mursi for 'insulting judiciary'

CAIRO (AFP) - Ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi and 24 others, including top activists who opposed him and his predecessor, will stand trial for insulting the judiciary, state media and judicial sources said on Sunday.

The defendants have been charged for allegedly making comments in the media and online that showed "disrespect and hatred for the courts and the judiciary", state news agency Mena said.

It was unclear whether the defendants would be tried together, and the latest charges will be the fourth set of proceedings against Mursi since his ouster.

Under the latest round of charges, Mursi has been accused for giving a speech days before his ouster by the army in July, when he allegedly accused a judge of overseeing electoral fraud in a 2005 vote, Mena said.

Mursi, Egypt's first freely elected civilian president, is already on trial for inciting the killings of opposition protesters in December 2012 outside the presidential palace.

His second trial over a prison break during the 2011 uprising is to start on Jan 28, while no date has yet been set for his third trial on charges related to espionage.

Other defendants in the trial for insulting the judiciary include several Islamists and Alaa Abdel Fattah, one of the activists who led the revolt against dictator Hosni Mubarak in 2011.

He is already in detention for participating in an illegal protest in November.

Abdel Fattah has been charged over comments on Twitter several months ago about legal proceedings concerning 2011 raids on the offices of foreign civil society groups, said his father and lawyer Ahmed Seif al-Islam.

Amr Hamzawy, a well known political science professor, and human rights lawyer Amir Salem will also stand trial. The pair had backed the ouster of Mursi in July along with Abdel Fattah.

Salem, who represented families of slain protesters in Mubarak's murder trial, told AFP he has been charged over comments he made related to this case.

"I am very surprised to find myself among (leaders) of the Brotherhood and the (Islamist) Gamaa Islamiya after I opposed them," he said, adding he had consistently fought "for the independence of the judiciary".

The other Brotherhood leaders to stand trial include former Parliament speaker Saad al-Katatni, and Mohamed al-Beltagi, the secretary-general of the Brotherhood's political Freedom and Justice Party.

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