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Africa

Egypt extends Morsi detention over Hamas inquiry

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-12

The detention of ousted president Mohammed Morsi has been extended by 15 days pending an inquiry into claims that he collaborated with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, Egypt's judiciary has announced.

Ousted president Mohammed Morsi's detention has been extended by 15 days pending an inquiry into claims that he collaborated with the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas in  2011, judicial sources said Monday.

Judge Hassan Samir ordered the prolongation of his detention on Monday pending an investigation into charges that Morsi conspired with Hamas during the country's 2011 uprising against former ruler Hosni Mubarak, a judicial official told AP on condition of anonymity.

Morsi, who was overthrown by the military on July 3, was detained on July 26.

The inquiry is focused on claims that Morsi colluded with Hamas to break out of the Wadi al-Natroun prison west of Cairo along with 33 other members of his Muslim Brotherhood group.

Morsi has been held, largely incommunicado, since the military toppled him on July 3, days after millions of Egyptians took to the streets demanding that he resign.

Pro-Morsi holdouts

On the streets of Cairo, hundreds of demonstrators waving Egyptian flags and carrying pictures of the deposed leader marched through the central neighbourhood of Ramses, as tensions rose over a threatened crackdown by the authorities.

Morsi loyalists, led by his Muslim Brotherhood movement, have kept in place two sit-ins in the capital and have also staged almost daily demonstrations around Egypt against his ouster.

The country's army-installed interim leaders have repeatedly warned them to leave, offering the Brotherhood a return to political life in exchange for an end to the protests.

With over 250 people killed in clashes since Morsi was overthrown and detained, authorities say they are eager to avoid more bloodshed.

"There will be a series of gradual steps. We will announce every step along the way," an interior ministry general told AFP.

Once the siege begins, the protesters will be "surrounded", no one will be let into the sit-ins and the protesters will be given several warnings to leave, another security official said. "This will last two to three days."

At the main Rabaa al-Adawiya sit-in, dozens of men wearing helmets and holding clubs on Monday guarded makeshift brickwall barriers.

Some in the camp acknowledged that police will eventually break through. "We will have martyrs. It will be a high price to pay, but there will be victory in the long run," one said.

Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning, has announced a last-ditch effort to resolve the tense political standoff and called for reconciliation talks between the rivals.

But the Muslim Brotherhood is unlikely to join talks sponored by Al-Azhar as its grand imam, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, sat alongside General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi when the army chief announced Morsi's overthrow.

Morsi loyalists have called for new protests on Tuesday after again rallying to demand his reinstatement and condemn the army.

Senior Muslim Brotherhood official, Farid Ismail, told a news conference: "We want to send a message to the coup leaders: the Egyptian people insists on continuing its revolution ... And the people will insist on turning out in all squares."

The interim leadership has drawn up a political roadmap for Egypt's transition which provides for new elections in 2014.

Morsi's turbulent single year in power polarised Egyptians and his ouster has deepened divisions.

His critics say he concentrated power in Brotherhood hands and that under his tenure political divisions spilled out onto the streets in deadly clashes while the economy tumbled.

On June 30, millions took to the streets to demand Morsi's ouster, openly calling on the army to remove him.

The interim leadership is under heavy pressure at home to crack down on the pro-Morsi protests, and it has been pressed by the international community to avoid bloodshed.

"I think [the authorities] will proceed very gently," said H.A. Hellyer, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institute. "Their concern isn't domestic because public opinion is strongly in favour of breaking up the protest. International condemnation is what they're afraid about."

Senior US, EU and Arab envoys have flown into Cairo to try to persuade the two sides to find a peaceful way out of the crisis, but they have all left empty-handed.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

 

Date created : 2013-08-12

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