Cairo’s criminal court, headed by Judge Mustafa Salamah Mohamed, decided on Wednesday 11 December to step down from presiding over the trial of 17 Muslim Brotherhood (MB) leaders and members. The state prosecution charges them with premeditated murder and incitement against peaceful protesters in front of the organisation’s headquarters in the Mokattam suburb of Cairo on 30 June. During the incident, assailants looted and burned the MB’s headquarters while the police stood by and refused to intervene, forcing the young members of the organisation to defend their headquarters and property.
The court sent the case papers to the Cairo court of appeal to determine a different circle connected to the criminal court to take over the trial of the 17 defendants, a procedure that has now happened twice, showing the judges’ sensitivity to taking the political case.
The court’s decision to step down for the second time came after it had tried many times to give the defence committee the opportunity to placate the situation by calming down the defendants and persuading them to remain silent so that the court could carry on with its proceedings. However, all the court’s attempts failed, with members of the MB repeatedly appealing to the judges to take into account justice while reminding them of the political nature of the case, chanting against the military coup, and raising four fingers in solidarity with those killed and injured during the Rabaa Al-Adawiya massacre.
The defendants in the case are: Dr Mohammad Badie, general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood; his deputies Khairat Al-Shater and Mohamed Rashad Bayoumi; Mohamed Saad Katatni, former president of the Egyptian parliament; Mohammed Mahdi Akef, former MB general guide; Osama Yassin, former minister of youth; Mohammed El-Beltagy, former member of the Egyptian parliament; Essam El-Erian, former member of the Shura Council; and Ayman Hodhod, adviser to the former Egyptian president. In addition, other leaders and members of the MB being tried include: Ahmed Shousha, Hussam Abu Bakr, Mahmoud El-Zanaty, Abdul Rahim Mohamed, Reda Fahmi, Mustafa Abdel Azim Al-Beshlawi, Mohamed Abdel Azim Al-Beshlawi and Atef Abdel Galil Al-Simari.