Egypt announces criminal investigation of Morsi

Egypt announces criminal investigation of Morsi

CAIRO - Reuters
Egypt announces criminal investigation of Morsi

A supporter of Egypt's ousted President Mohamed Morsi poses with a paper mask of Morsi as he and others face the Egyptian military soldiers near the presidential palace in Cairo, July 13. AP photo

Egypt announced a criminal investigation on July 13 against deposed President Mohamed Morsi, with prosecutors saying they were examining complaints of spying, inciting violence and ruining the economy.

Egypt's first freely elected leader has been held at an undisclosed location since the army removed him from power on July 3, but has not yet been charged with any crime. In recent days Washington has called for him to be freed and for the authorities to stop arresting leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood.

The public prosecutor's office issued a statement saying it had received complaints against Morsi, eight other named Islamist figures including top Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie, and others it did not identify.

The complaints are a first step in the criminal process, allowing prosecutors to begin an investigation that can lead to charges. Announcing the step was unusual: typically prosecutors wait until charges are filed before making public statements.

Badie and several other Brotherhood officials already face charges for inciting violence that were announced earlier this week, but most of them have not been arrested.

The prosecutors did not say who had made the complaints. Egyptian law allows them to investigate complaints from police or any member of the public.

Morsi's Brotherhood called on July 13 for more mass demonstrations after a huge march broke up peacefully before dawn, ending a week in which at least 90 people were killed. 
Vigil continues

The Brotherhood, which has maintained a vigil near a Cairo mosque since before the army removed Morsi on July 3, has said it will not leave the streets until he is restored to power.

Large crowds of Brotherhood supporters finally dispersed before dawn on July 13 after marching through the streets into the early hours holding up pictures of Morsi at traffic lights.

Tens of thousands had turned out on July 12 for what the Brotherhood called a "day of marching on".

Morsi's opponents say those demonstrations are still much smaller than the ones that brought him down. However, the Brotherhood has shown its organisational muscle by keeping its vigil running into a third week and bringing in coachloads of supporters from the provinces during the Ramadan fasting month.

At one stage overnight, demonstrators stood behind barbed wire shouting at soldiers a few dozen metres (yards) away.

"I am here to say 'no' to the military coup and 'yes' to Morsi, who I see as my legitimate president," said Ahmed Adel, a 22-year-old student, in downtown Cairo.

Senior Brotherhood figure Essam El-Erian, one of those who faces arrest, called on his Facebook page for more demonstrations on July 15. 

"Egypt decides through the ballot box, through protests, mass marches and peaceful sit-ins," he said.
Egypt's interim authorities have set out a "road map" to restore full civilian rule, setting out plans for a new constitution and parliamentary elections in about six months, to be followed by a presidential vote.

Cabinet ready 'in two days'

Hazem el-Beblawi, the interim prime minister, is trying to cobble together a cabinet likely to be made up mainly of technocrats and liberals, without offending a large ultra-orthodox Islamist group that broke with the Brotherhood to accept the military takeover. Beblawi told Reuters on July 13 he expected to name the cabinet within two days.

Egypt's crisis has raised fears over security in the lawless Sinai peninsula bordering Israel and the Palestinian Gaza Strip, where militants attack security forces checkpoints almost daily.

The headline in the state-run Al Gomhuria newspaper read: "Sinai Purification Operation within Days", referring to a possible army offensive against militants in the region.

But a senior army officer, who asked not to be named, said this was unlikely to take place immediately because forces are now focused on keeping the peace during political turmoil.

Security sources said on July 13 a Palestinian had been arrested in Egypt on suspicion of carrying out attacks on a natural gas pipeline.