Public prosecutor charges al-Adly with killing protesters

Egypt's public prosecutor made an unprecedented sweep Wednesday against the top security brass, charging the former interior minister Habib al-Adly, and other officials with aiding the murder and the attempted murder of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

The charges are the first move by Egypt's military-appointed provisional government to hold former officials accountable for the killings of some 300 demonstrators during mass protests that toppled Mubarak's regime on Feb. 11 after nearly 30 years of rule.

The charges are in stark contrast to the almost-total freedom that security forces had during Mubarak's reign, when thousands of Egyptians faced humiliations large and small — from torture to paying out police to dodge falsified charges.

Top prosecutor Abdul Maguid Mahmoud said al-Adly, who is in prison on other charges, and the heads of the state, public and central security agencies aided the killing of protesters during the uprising that began in January.

A series of officers and policemen in 11 other Egyptian provinces and cities, including the seaside metropolis of Alexandria, were also charged.

"They killed and wounded a number of citizens as they protested peacefully in these provinces," Mahmoud said in a statement released to official media.

The charges paves the way for a newer generation of midlevel security officials to assume the top positions.

A court date to hear the charges is expected to be set soon.

Also Wednesday, Egypt's military rulers endorsed a package of constitutional amendments that were adopted in a nationwide referendum, paving the way for parliamentary and presidential elections within months.

Critics fear the swift timetable could boost the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood and members of the former ruling party, but the amendments were overwhelmingly approved by Egyptian voters last week.

Wednesday's declaration by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces — currently Egypt's top decision making body since Mubarak's ouster — did not set an election date.

The military rulers have said before that they want to quickly hand over power to a civilian government.

The amendments eased conditions for independent candidates to run elections and limited presidents to two four-year terms. They also ensured fair and free elections.

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