Rabaa dispersal mass trial of over 700 postponed to Feb. 6

Saturday 12-12-2015 05:45 PM
Rabaa dispersal mass trial of over 700 postponed to Feb. 6

Police forces break up Rabaa al-Adaweya sit-in on August 14, 2013 - Emad Ahmed/Aswat Masriya


CAIRO, Dec. 12 (Aswat Masriya) - In the first hearing of what is known as the "Rabaa dispersal case" Saturday, a Cairo court postponed proceedings to Feb. 6, when 739 defendants, including the Muslim Brotherhood's Supreme Guide, will face trial.    

The trial was postponed because the cage in which defendants are typically placed in court was not big enough to hold all of them. The judge ordered prosecutors to ensure the expansion of the cage is completed by the next hearing to avoid future postponements.

Defendants face charges of "assembly, show of force, premeditated murder," as well as intentional damage of property and possession of unlicensed firearms and material that can be considered explosive. They were referred to trial in August 2015, two years after the incident in question.

Rabaa Al-Adaweya Square in Cairo had hosted a mass sit-in organised in late June 2013 in solidarity with and to show support for president Mohamed Mursi and his administration, following Mursi's military ouster amid mounting protests against his rule. 

The encampment was maintained for weeks before it was violently dispersed on Aug. 14, 2013.

The number of people who were killed during the dispersal remains contested, with varying death tolls claimed by different sources.

While the state's Forensic Authority said in an updated death toll in late 2013 that 627 were killed in the dispersal, the state's National Council for Human Right said in March 2014 that the death toll was 632, including eight security personnel. 

But independent figures are higher. Wiki Thawra, a website that describes itself as a "statistical database of the Egyptian revolution," said 932 were killed in the incident. 

Human Rights Watch said in a report, issued one year after the dispersal, that security forces "killed a minimum of 817 people and more likely at least 1,000." 

The watchdog has described the dispersal as "the most serious incident of mass unlawful killings in modern Egyptian history."

Rabaa Square's name was changed recently to carry the name of assassinated Prosecutor General Hisham Barakat, whose motorcade was targeted in an attack by militants as he left his home on June 29, 2015.

In today's session, the court ordered the arrest of defendants who are still at large, including Mursi's son, Osama. 

Since Mursi's ouster, Brotherhood leaders and members have either been arbitrarily arrested and detained indefinitely or subjected to trials which human rights organizations have described as lacking due process.

Egypt listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organisation in December 2013.

The state insists the Brotherhood is behind the violent wave of militancy which has targeted security personnel since mid-2013.

The Brotherhood continuously denies the accusations.

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