Egypt unrest: Deposed president Mohamed Morsi could face long jail term if found guilty of colluding with foreign groups

Egypt’s interim rulers to pursue deposed president over his escape from prison

Cairo

Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is to be investigated over his escape from prison with 30 senior members of the Muslim Brotherhood in the lead-up to the uprising which forced his predecessor Hosni Mubarak from power.

The inquiry follows allegations that militant groups – the Palestinian Hamas and Lebanese Hezbollah – had helped by attacking the jail, allowing the inmates to be freed.

The move by Egypt’s new rulers signals their intention to legally pursue the president deposed by the military last week. It raises the possibility of him serving a long sentence if he is found guilty of colluding with foreign groups against the Egyptian state.

The announcement the case was being taken up by the chief state prosecutor came as the US, the UN and some western European states, including Germany, urged the country’s interim administration not to target and marginalise the Muslim Brotherhood. Many of the group’s hierarchy were detained by the security forces during the violence which followed the dismissal of the government.

Mr Morsi remains under arrest at the headquarters of the Republican Guards, it is believed, with his followers who had vowed to free him, encamped nearby. Fifty-one of them were killed in clashes with the army and police last Monday.

Mr Morsi’s wife, Najla Mahmoud, has spoken to him on the phone but does not know where he is being held.

The Obama administration has criticised the detentions and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has warned about the consequences of keeping Islamists away from the political process. The German government has asked for restrictions on Mr Morsi to be lifted and for international civil rights organisations to be given access to him and others being held.

However, Washington’s position was seen as ambiguous after State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki appeared to criticise Mr Morsi as being undemocratic and the author of his own misfortune.

The Muslim Brotherhood said Ms Psaki’s comments were a graphic illustration of the hypocrisy of the US and showed that it had “backed the military coup all along”.

Ms Psaki said she had been “referring to all of the voices we have heard coming, the millions coming from Egypt, and how strongly they have voiced their views about his rule”.

The renewed investigation, under chief prosecutor Hesham Barkat, will be focused on the escape of Mr Morsi and his colleagues from the Wadi Natrun prison north of Cairo two days after they were arrested. The escapees  included Essam e-Erian, who became a senior leader of the Brotherhood’s political wing, and Saad el-Katanti,  later the speaker of parliament.

At a court hearing on Sunday, Judge Khaled Mahgoub named two members of the Brotherhood as conspirators in the attack on the prison along with Hamas and Hezbollah. He said Ibrahim Haggag and Sayyed Ayad had been involved “with those foreign elements who violated the sovereignty of the Egyptian state and its territory in addition to spreading chaos throughout the republic. This led to the release of thousands of prisoners who are a danger to society.”

At the time Mr Morsi said:  “More than a hundred people made every effort to open up the prison for more than four hours. Once we were out we found the courtyard was empty, and we only saw the group that for a long time had been trying to break the door.”

Legal proceedings were set aside when Mr Morsi became president, but had never been dropped. The process  restarted when arrest warrants were issued for the Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Mohammed Badie, and nine others accused of inciting violence.

Last Friday, a fiery speech by Mr Badie, who at the time was thought to be detained, was followed by Brotherhood supporters clashing with security forces and opponents who had gathered at Tahrir Square. They also instigated, the authorities claim, the violence which led to the dozens being killed three days later.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Web Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Estimator

£17000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?