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Egypt refers 42 people to trial for obstructing burial

Egyptian courtroom in Cairo, Egypt on 8 September 2018 [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/ Images]
An Egyptian courtroom in Cairo, Egypt on 8 September 2018 [MOHAMED EL-SHAHED/AFP/ Images]

Egypt's prosecution has referred 42 people from Shubra Al-Bahou village in Dakhalia Governorate to criminal trial on charges related to preventing a burial.

In April dozens of people gathered in front of an ambulance to prevent it from entering the cemetery in Shubra Al-Bahou village over fears it could spread the coronavirus.

The body belonged to the doctor Sonia Aref, 64, who died in Abu Khalifa Hospital in Ismailia on 11 April from COVID-19.

At the time of the protest police fired tear gas into the crowd and used batons to disperse them and arrested 23 of the protesters. Egypt's Interior Ministry accused the Muslim Brotherhood of instigating the protests.

In an official statement on Facebook the Interior Ministry accused the "outlaws" of "responding to rumours and incitement made by the Brotherhood group under the pretext of preventing the spread of the virus."

READ: Mohamed Soltan files lawsuit against Egypt's former PM

Shortly after General Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi assumed power through a military coup the Muslim Brotherhood were outlawed as terrorists and many defendants have been accused of being members of the group, including Christians and people who were major critics of the organisation.

In the burial case, 42 people have now been charged by the public prosecutor for disturbing public peace, assaulting other people and public property and using force against the authorities.

Since Egypt's first coronavirus case was detected on 14 February authorities have cracked down on a number of people including journalists deviating from the official line and activists and political commentators.

Treatment of doctors themselves has drawn widespread criticism, not just in Egypt but across the world, leading to questions over how concerned the authorities really were for Sonia's peaceful burial.

Doctors have complained about not being tested or given space within intensive care units despite displaying covid-type symptoms. They have not been provided with adequate PPE despite the fact that the regime has sent boxes of medical aid to its allies abroad.

Some three doctors, including an ophthalmologist who questioned why the government was sending aid abroad, have been imprisoned.

READ: A week of politically motivated arrests in Egypt

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