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Ousted Egyptian President Ordered Held, Faces Charges

  • RFE/RL

General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi

General Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi

An Egyptian court has ordered that ousted President Muhammad Morsi be held in detention on charges that include carrying out killings and collusion with the Palestinian group Hamas.

Egyptian news agencies report that Morsi was ordered jailed for 15 days while a prosecutor investigates the charges. His detention can be extended as the investigation continues.

Egypt's MENA news agency said Morsi had already been interrogated at an undisclosed location where the military has been keeping him since it declared he was no longer president on July 3.

The charges stem from a mass prison escape by Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders during the 2011 overthrow of longtime Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak.

MENA reports the investigation is focusing on Morsi's contacts with Hamas "to carry out antistate acts, attacking police stations, army officers, and storming prisons, setting fire to one prison and enabling inmates, including [Morsi] to flee."

Morsi and 24 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders were arrested on January 28, 2011, and held in the Wadi el-Natroun prison as unrest spread across Egypt. Two days later, a mass escape took place, though Morsi said at the time the prison guards and officials had simply left and prisoners walked free. Muslim Brotherhood officials said they were freed by local residents.

The Muslim Brotherhood called accusations against Morsi "ridiculous" and said the charges signaled the regime of Mubarak was "back in full force."

Muhammad Morsi

Muhammad Morsi

In the Gaza Strip, Hamas condemned Morsi's detention calling it a "dangerous development."

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said, "We challenge the current rulers of Egypt to bring a single piece of evidence on their alleged claim Hamas has intervened in internal Egyptian affairs."

Morsi’s detention announcement comes after the country's defense minister called for mass rallies on July 26 to show support for the military.

General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi took many people by surprise when he announced earlier this week that he wanted people to take to the streets in large numbers to support what he called the fight against "violence and terrorism."

Supporters of the military are already out in Cairo.

"I am coming out in order to mandate the military to fight terrorism," one protester told Reuters, "and so that we can live in peace and security, and so that people can achieve their goals, and for people to begin working again. A mandate for the army to take up all of its responsibilities."

The Muslim Brotherhood continues to say Morsi is the legitimately elected president of the country and has vowed to continue protests until he is freed and reinstated.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP