Egyptian court acquits 169 Mursi backers

May 20, 2014 - 6:54:27 am
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CAIRO: An Egyptian court yesterday acquitted 169 supporters of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi over protest violence last year, judicial sources said.

The army-installed government has rounded up thousands of Mursi’s supporters and put them on trial in mass hearings since his ouster by the military in July last year.

The often speedy mass trials have jailed hundreds for lengthy terms and even handed down death sentences, triggering international outrage.

The 169 defendants were accused of taking part in “riots” during a violent protest in Cairo on August 14, when police killed hundreds of Mursi supporters at two sit-ins in the capital.

A relentless crackdown on Mursi’s mostly Islamist backers since his ouster has killed more than 1,400 people, and seen 15,000 others jailed. Meanwhile, gunmen shot dead two Egyptian policemen yesterday in the central city of Minya as they were heading home, the interior ministry said.

The two policemen, riding on a motorbike, were shot dead on the Minya-Assiut highway, the ministry said.

The attack comes just days ahead of the May 26-27 presidential election, which former army chief Abdel Fattah Al Sisi who ousted Mursi is expected to win.

In April, a court in Minya triggered an international outcry after sentencing to death around 700 Mursi supporters after a speedy mass trial, accusing them of murder and attempted murder of policemen in August last year in Minya.

The European Union said yesterday it will observe next week’s presidential election in Egypt after authorities allowed in communications equipment, two days after announcing the mission had been scrapped.

The EU, which had accepted an invitation from the military-installed authorities to monitor the May 26-27 election, had said on Saturday it would be unable to do its job after Egyptian customs held up the equipment.

“The European Union observer mission is able to continue (its mission). However, it will have to make adjustments,” Mario David, the head of the EU observer mission, told reporters in Cairo.

A team of 45 observers was already in Cairo and would soon deploy across the country, said the EU parliamentarian from Portugal.

David said he had already met the two candidates — frontrunner Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, who led the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi last year, and leftist leader Hamdeen Sabbahi.

“EU election observer missions do not legitimise elections or validate their results,” said David, refusing to comment on the poll which comes after a brutal crackdown on Mursi supporters.

Amnesty International says more than 1,400 people have been killed in the crackdown. More than 15,000 have been arrested, with hundreds sentenced to death or prison terms in speedy mass trials.AFP

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