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Egypt sends ousted Morsi to third trial over Arab Spring jailbreaks

Some of the charges against Morsi and 129 others carry the death penalty

Egypt's prosecutors have referred ousted Islamist President Mohammed Morsi to a third trial, on charges of organising prison breaks during the 2011 uprising and abducting policemen in collaboration with foreign militants.

Egypt's Investigative Judge Hassan Samir today referred Mr Morsi and 129 others for the new trial. Other suspects include members of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood group, members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah.

These charges are separate from two other trials that Mr Morsi already faces - over inciting the killings of his opponents and for conspiring with foreign groups to destabilize Egypt.

Some of the charges against Mr Morsi carry the death penalty.

The new charges relate to incidents in January 2011, where dozens of Muslim Brotherhood leaders including Mr Morsi were arrested days after major protests erupted against his predecessor Hosni Mubarak. More than 20,000 inmates then escaped in a mass break-out from jails, including Mr Morsi. Authorities said the jailbreaks were part of an organized effort to destabilise the country. 

Also charged are members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas and the Lebanese Hezbollah group. Members from those two groups were among those who broke out of Egyptian jails. A prosecution official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to reporters said a prominent pro-Brotherhood cleric Youssef el-Qaradawi, an Egyptian based in Qatar, is also on the list.

A prosecution statement from Mr Samir’s office does not name all 129 defendants, but said: “An investigation into the case since April has shown that the Brotherhood plotted with foreign groups to "destroy the Egyptian state and its institutions," recruiting some 800 militants in the Gaza Strip to attack police stations and at least three prisons in Egypt, breaking out thousands of prisoners, and killing policemen and other inmates.

The accused were also charged with kidnapping four policemen and holding them in the Gaza Strip. It also said the men had "appropriated animal and poultry livestock" from the prisons.

Mr Morsi was deposed by the military following days of mass protests over his leadership on 3 July 2013. Genera Abdul Fatah al-Sisi became Egypt's interim president.

No date has been set for the trial.

Additional reporting by agencies