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504 people referred to criminal court for Ramses Square violence

Public Prosecutor Hesham Barakat has ordered 504 Muslim Brotherhood members to appear before the Cairo Criminal Court for their alleged involvement in the Ramses Square and Al-Fath Mosque clashes, the state-owned Middle East News Agency (MENA) reported on Monday.

Two days after the August 14 dispersal of two pro-Brotherhood protest camps in Rabea al-Adaweya and Nahda Squares that claimed hundreds of lives, clashes broke out between Brotherhood supporters and police forces in Ramses, leaving 210 dead.

In the prosecution’s referral order, the defendants are accused of committing acts of violence and inciting violence, killing 210 citizens, the desecration and vandalism of Al-Fath mosque, preventing prayers in the mosque, committing attempted murder inside the building for terrorist reasons, illegal assembly, thuggery, vandalism of public and private property, burning citizens’ cars, attacking police forces, illegal arms possession, blocking roads, obstructing public transportation and endangering the lives of the passengers.

The defendants will remain in detention until the trial.

On August 16, the prosecution was notified that members of the now banned Islamist organization were firing machine guns from the October 6 Bridge, shooting at civilians and blocking all roads to Ramses Square, according to MENA. A number of police forces and civilians were reportedly killed in the incident.

The prosecution lists as evidence statements the Brotherhood published on social networking websites calling on supporters to gather in the embattled square under the slogan “Friday of Anger” as a sign of opposition against the military-backed interim government.

“But the real aim of the protests was to give justification for enabling the terrorist group to execute its terrorist plot to confront the state, attack police forces and burn state institutions,” the public prosecution wrote, according to MENA.

The defendants are also accused of attacking the Azbakeya police station and throwing Molotov cocktails and tear gas canisters into the building before opening fire with machine guns, according to the prosecution’s investigation. The incident left 209 civilians and one police conscript dead, and injured 296 others, including 47 police personnel.

The protesters also face allegations of vandalizing the Arab Contractors Company headquarters and setting it ablaze, attacking the Ramses Square police checkpoint and vandalizing cars, police trucks and ambulances.

After these acts of vandalism, the prosecution claims that two Brotherhood leaders entered Al-Fath Mosque to begin a sit-in, using the holy building as sanctuary to avoid arrest while continuing to fire machine guns at police forces.

The two suspects were trying to “give the sense that army and police forces are oppressing the protesters, while army and police forces were actually trying hard to secure a safe exit for Brotherhood members out of the mosque to protect them from angry citizens,” the prosecution claimed.

Investigations showed that the defendants included four Irish-Egyptians, two Syrians and one Turkish citizen.

Security personnel also reportedly confiscated ten machine and pellet guns and 21 Molotov cocktails hidden inside the mosque’s minaret.

Also on Monday, the Alexandria Misdemeanor Court sentenced 15 Brotherhood leaders to two years in prison and fines of LE20,000 each for inciting violence during the Al-Qaed Ibrahim Mosque clashes in August.

The defendants include former MPs Sobhi Saleh, Hassan al-Brins, Saber Aboul Fotouh and others.

Fifty other defendants in the same case were sentenced to four years in prison with LE50,000 fines.