Egypt dissident says will face trial for protest

Prominent Egyptian dissident Alaa Abdel Fattahwill stand trial for allegedly participating in a May attack on a presidential candidate's headquarters, he told AFP on Thursday.

Abdel Fattah, who was jailed during the previous regime of the Hosni Mubarak, said he had received a letter telling him he and 12 others, were to go on trial.

The defendants include his sister and fellow dissident Mona Seif. They are accused of having taken part in an attack on Ahmed Shafiq's offices.

"Today I received notice by mail that the case has been referred to court," he said.

The attack on Shafiq's offices came after the former Mubarak prime minister made it to the second round of a presidential election from which Mohamed Morsi emerged victorious.

"It is clear they are targeting all kinds of activists," said Abdel Fattah. The notice he had received said the decision to place him on trial had been taken on March 3, he added.

Judicial officials were not immediately available for comment.

Activist and blogger Abdel Fattah was earlier this week ordered arrested and then released on separate charges of inciting clashes outside the ruling Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters last week.

Other prominent opponents of President Mohamed Morsi have also been placed under investigation.

Shafiq himself fled the country following his loss to Morsi. He is due to be tried in absentia on corruption charges.

Abdel Fattah had been a leading opponent of Mubarak and joined calls for the overthrow of the strongman who had once jailed him.

The military, which ruled in between Mubarak's ouster and Morsi's election last June, also jailed Abdel Fattah. On that occasion it was for his alleged involvement in an October 2011 incident in which soldiers cracked down on a Christian protest, killing more than 20 demonstrators.

Following last Friday's violence outside the the Muslim Brotherhood's headquarters, Morsi, a former leader of the Islamist movement, warned that the authorities would take "the necessary measures" against those involved.

Islamists and the secular leaning opposition have traded blame for the violence, which took place against a backdrop of high political tensions in Egypt two years after the revolution that ousted Mubarak.

Former presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq said that the news of referring political activists Alaa Abdel Fattah and Mona Seif to the criminal court on accusations of burning down his campaign headquarters came as a surprise to him, since he had previously announced in broadcasted speeches that he had withdrawn his complaint against them. 

“We refuse to be a stick used to beat Egypt’s revolutionaries,” Shafiq posted on Twitter on Thursday. “I will not allow the Brotherhood to use my name to settle their accounts with the youth.”

“This incident proves the Brotherhood's insistence on fabricating cases in any way possible, putting hundreds of oppoonents in the country at risk,” he said.

Shafiq, however, condemned any acts of violence by protesters, but also strongly rejected “the insults to the law by using the law to settle political differences.”

“Let the Brotherhood know that the crisis of governing in Egypt will not be solved by legal fabrications,” Shafiq warned,  “just like the economic crisis will not be solved by any loans or deals to hand over those who had sought asylum in Egypt in exchange for money.”

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