Egypt's former President Mohamed Morsi. — Photo Reuters
Egypt's former President Mohamed Morsi. — Photo Reuters

CAIRO: Egypt announced a criminal investigation on Saturday against deposed Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, with prosecutors saying they were examining complaints of spying, inciting violence and ruining the economy.

Egypt's first freely elected leader has been held at an undisclosed location since the army removed him from power on July 3, but has not yet been charged with any crime. In recent days, Washington has called for him to be freed and for the authorities to stop arresting leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood.

The public prosecutor's office said in a statement it had received complaints against Mursi, eight other named Islamist figures including the Brotherhood's leader, Mohamed Badie, and others it did not identify.

The military says it deposed Mursi in a justified response to popular demand after millions of people demonstrated against him. The Brotherhood says it was a coup that reversed democracy.

Turmoil in the most populous Arab state has alarmed the United States and other Western donors. Egypt straddles the Suez Canal and signed a U.S.-brokered peace treaty with Israel in 1979.

Complaints such as those against Mursi are a first step in the criminal process, allowing prosecutors to begin an investigation that can lead to charges. Announcing the step was unusual: typically prosecutors wait until charges are filed.

The prosecutors did not say who had made the complaints. Egyptian law allows them to investigate complaints from police or any member of the public.

Badie and several other Brotherhood officials already face charges for inciting violence that were announced earlier this week, but few of them have been arrested.

Asked about the announcement of criminal investigations against Mursi, Badie and others, U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, "I can't speak to the specifics of this investigation, but generally speaking, we have made clear the need to follow due process, respect the rule of law, and avoid politicized arrests and investigations."

BROTHERHOOD REJECTS CHARGES

A senior army official told Reuters the authorities were allowing the Brotherhood figures to remain at large in part so that they could monitor their activities and collect evidence against them to ensure that any case was watertight.

"We will leave them to do their talking and protests and we are sure at the end everything will be resolved smoothly and legally," said the official, who asked not to be identified.

Brotherhood spokesman Gehad El-Haddad said the charges were absurd and that it was the authorities themselves who were responsible for inciting violence.

"They execute the crime themselves and then they slap it on their opponents. As long as you have a criminal police force and a complicit judiciary, the evidence will appear and the judge will be satisfied. And the media will sell it to the public."

Mursi's Brotherhood called on Saturday for more mass demonstrations after large protests broke up peacefully before dawn, ending a week in which at least 90 people were killed.

The Brotherhood, which has maintained a vigil near a Cairo mosque since before the army removed Mursi on July 3, has said it will not leave the streets until he is restored to power.

Tens of thousands turned out on Friday for what the Brotherhood called a "day of marching on". Large crowds of supporters dispersed early on Saturday, although a few hundred marched again after nightfall towards the defense ministry.

Mursi's opponents say these demonstrations are still much smaller than the ones that brought him down. However, the Brotherhood has shown its organizational muscle by keeping its vigil running into a third week and bringing in coachloads of supporters from the provinces during the Ramadan fasting month.

Senior Brotherhood figure Essam el-Erian, one of those who faces arrest, called on his Facebook page for more demonstrations on Monday. "Egypt decides through the ballot box, through protests, mass marches and peaceful sit-ins," he said.


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Comments (6) Closed




Parvez
Jul 14, 2013 03:21pm

I have no love lot for the Broterhood..........they messes up a good thing going for them, but when looks at the larger picture...........democracy , the west that means mailnly America have landed up with egg on their faces.

sabeeh omer
Jul 14, 2013 03:31pm

Nothing surprising. Charges will have to be brought (albeit cooked) to justify the military overthrow of an elected leader. Why was this very military and prosecutors sleeping during the thirty years of autocratic, corrupt and unjust rule of Mubarak?

shahbaz
Jul 14, 2013 04:33pm

this is most absurd and the malicious approach just to justify an unjustified oust of elected Morsi. again the america is poking his nose in the matters of an independent country. i wonder how can an army which take oath to be the loyal to a country can act on the orders of foreign powers. this was started just like the demonstration against turkey's president. west can not endure the Islamic rule of law in a state as they are working on an anti Islamic agenda and to the sorrow of the public of an Islamic state, they are acting like puppets in the hand of west. No doubt things get messed up in countries but this does not mean an attack on a civilian elected government. that's why we strongly believe that Musharraf and any other military leader who attacks on the democracy in a country must be tried and must be dragged to the court so that other must realize and they must be made to think a hundred time before ousting a democratic leader. how come the people who brought brotherhood in the powers did not wait for a while to let them define their policies and to let them work for their tenure. we must put vigilance to the social media and the foreign NGOs as they act as simulators in these kinds of responses from the public. only because of this attitude of the military leaders, every Islamic country is only moving from pillars to post. so we must draw the lines on the work of the arm forces and they must be stopped meddling in the matters of a democratic elected government.

Khawar T khyam
Jul 14, 2013 05:46pm

Thanks God they are not claiming that his elections were rigged. Who spent the money to displace him. Which state is scared from democracy. Definitely one day there will be revolution in Saudi Arab and UAE.

Nazim
Jul 15, 2013 09:42am

Although I am for secularism and secular constitution for all the countries but I strongly denounce ouster of Mohamed Morsy's Government backed by Muslim Brotherhood. Morsy has come to power through three elections, he should be given reasonable time to run the country. Secular forces can succeed on long term basis only after Muslim Brotherhood is given full five years and they fail to deliver.

Bea
Jul 15, 2013 09:14pm

@shahbaz: do not forget he has done nothing for his country food prices are high the poor cannot afford to eat no fuel no electricity all the promises he made have been a smoke screen the people of Egypt are fed up with him and his false promisess. if onlt the people of Pakistan had the courage to stand up to their leaders Pakistan would be a differant story.

i go to Egypt 5 or 6 times a year and have been going to egypt for 20 some years first visit was when my late father took us all on holiday, it is a beautiful country it is in ruines its very sad to see it like this in the day of Mubarrak at leat people had food and fuel now they have nothing i took part in the anti morsi march on the 30th they was no trouble until the tue when the brotherhood turned up and shot 2 policemen, its a very sad state of affairs i hope that they come to the right decision and get the country back on its feet.