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Morsi's son on drugs charge

18 March 2014, 11:24

Cairo - Prosecutors referred the youngest son of Egypt's ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi to trial Monday on charges of drug use and possession, an accusation his family dismisses as an attempt to tarnish their image.

Moumin Salman, a prosecutor in the Nile Delta city of Benha, ordered that 20-year-old Abdullah Morsi, a university freshman, and his friend be tried before a criminal court. A date has not yet been set for the trial.

According to police accounts, Morsi's son was arrested with his friend on 1 March after a local patrol became suspicious of a parked car on the side of the road on the east edge of Cairo. After a search, the officers told prosecutors, the police found two rolled hashish cigarettes in their car. The police say first Morsi and his friend refused to take a drug test, but later agreed and were then released.

The family said the charges are fabricated, and aim to defame Morsi's family. Abdullah's older brother, Osama, told The Associated Press at the time that he had received warnings from officials that members of the family will now be targeted for prosecution.

The ousted president has been detained since the military overthrew him in July following mass protests against him. He has since been put on trial on several charges, including conspiring with foreign groups, inciting his supporters to murder protesters, and organizing a campaign of violence in Egypt.

Thousands of members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the group to which Morsi belongs, have also been arrested and many are facing trials. But his family has largely been spared the crackdown.

Authorities accuse Morsi and his supporters of seeking to destabilise the country following his ousting. Before he was ousted, Morsi supporters set up two protest camps in the capital - one outside east Cairo's Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque and a smaller one outside Cairo University in the west - where they gathered for nearly two months calling for his reinstatement.

Hundreds were killed when security forces moved to break up the encampments.

A government-appointed body assigned to investigate the violence during the dispersal said on Monday it presented a final report of its probe into the Rabaah dispersal to the country's interim president, prime minister, top prosecutor and other officials. It demanded an official investigation.

The National Council for Human Rights had blamed Morsi supporters for shooting at police, escalating violence that ultimately led to the death of 624 civilians and eight police officers in the area outside the mosque. But the group also held the security responsible for using excessive firepower and for failing to protect a safe corridor through which it intended the protesters to evacuate.

Conceal violations

One rights group has compiled a list of over 900 names, although Morsi supporters insist the toll is much higher. On their part, a Muslim Brotherhood-led coalition said the findings were "a failed attempt" by authorities to get away with the killings.

The council said nearly half of the victims were in their thirties. Out of the sample examined, 88% were killed by live ammunition. Nearly 1 492 were wounded and 800 arrested, the report added.

Nasser Amin, a rights lawyer and a council member, said that both the security forces and the Brotherhood refused to co-operate with the council, which relied on eyewitness and journalist account and videos.

"Naturally, each party is trying to conceal their violations," he said.

Also on Monday, Judge Hassan Rashad sentenced 10 Brotherhood supporters to a year in prison on charges of holding a protest that the prosecution said sought to disrupt voting in a referendum on the constitution amended after Morsi's ouster.

Those sentenced include a journalist who worked at the group's newspaper. It has been suspended and only has an online version.

The journalist was covering the rally, which took place in the Cairo district of Shubra. Clashes between the protesters and security erupted during the protest.

- AP


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