March 11, 2014
Egypt sends Morsi to trial for international conspiracy
Egypt's public prosecutor charged former President Mohamed Morsi and 35 other top Islamists today with conspiring with foreign groups to commit terrorist acts in Egypt, in a case that could result in their execution.
Declaring it "the biggest case of conspiracy in the history of Egypt", a statement detailed a "terrorist plan" dating back to 2005 and implicating the Palestinian group Hamas, the Shi'ite Islamist government of Iran and its Lebanese ally Hezbollah.
Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, dismissed it as "fabrications and lies". There was no immediate comment from Iran, Hezbollah or Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, most of whose leaders are in prison.
It marks a further escalation in the suppression of an Islamist movement that propelled Morsi to victory in last year's presidential election but which has been driven underground since the army deposed him in July after mass protests.
The state has cracked down hard on the group since then, killing hundreds of its supporters. Thousands more have been arrested as the army-backed government proceeds with a transition plan designed to lead to elections next year.
The next step is a referendum on a new constitution set for mid-January. In a statement on Wednesday, the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party called for a boycott of the vote.
The previous constitution was written by an Islamist-dominated assembly and signed into law by Morsi a year ago after it was approved in a referendum.
The new constitution contains an article that would ban all religious parties. Although the Brotherhood and its Islamist allies oppose it, the ultraorthodox Islamist Nour Party is calling on Egyptians to vote for the constitution.