Deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi is reportedly standing trial on charges of inciting murder and violence, in an escalation of the crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s army-backed authorities on Sunday named a constituent assembly almost devoid of Islamists and gave it 60 days to review amendments that would erase Islamic articles brought in last year by the Brotherhood and more hardline Islamic parties.
Nearly two months after the army deposed President Morsi, the moves underscored Egypt’s dramatic power shift as its new rulers tighten their grip and crack down on the Islamists who rose to power through the ballot box after Hosni Mubarak’s downfall.
A state prosecutor charged President Morsi and 14 other Brotherhood members with “committing acts of violence, and inciting killing and thuggery”, the state news agency reported.
The charges relate to violence in which around a dozen people were killed outside the presidential palace last December, after President Morsi had ignited protesters’ rage with a decree that expanded his powers.
The episode was one of the most violent of his presidency. Tens of thousands gathered outside the presidency to demonstrate against President Morsi’s decree and a divisive, Islamist-tinged constitution that he planned to put to a referendum.
The Brotherhood’s leaders called on members to rally to his defence. The state news agency said they were now accused of mobilising their followers to forcibly disperse the protesters after the security forces rejected Mr Morsi’s orders to do so.
The charges against President Morsi include inciting his followers and assistants to commit crimes of premeditated murder and use violence and thuggery.
Mr Morsi is also being investigated over his escape from jail during the 2011 uprising against President Mubarak. He is suspected of murder and conspiring with the Palestinian group Hamas during his escape, though no formal charges have been brought.
Both the European Union and the United States, source of $1.3bn in annual military aid to Cairo, had called for Mr Morsi’s release after he was detained following his overthrow on 3 July.