CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s prosecutor general on Wednesday referred the former interior minister and four aides to court on charges of ordering the shooting of anti-regime protesters, the state news agency MENA said.
Abdel Magid Mahmud referred Habib al-Adly and the ex-chiefs of Cairo security, public security, central security and state security to the Cairo criminal court for “the premeditated and deliberate killing of some protesters during the demonstrations that erupted on January 25 in Cairo and other provinces,” MENA said.
Adly is currently on trial for fraud as part of a broad investigation by Egypt’s new military rulers into corruption under the rule of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
The four security chiefs, Ismail al-Shaer, Adly Fayed, Ahmed Ramzi and Hassan Abdel Rahman, were detained on March 11 for allowing the shooting of protesters.
Anti-government protests that erupted on January 25 saw violent clashes between Adly’s forces and demonstrators, and left at least 384 people dead and more than 6,000 injured.
Also to face criminal trial are the security chiefs of the provinces of Giza and October 6, as well as a large number of officers from 11 provinces, all charged with “killing and wounding protesters,” a security official told AFP.
The trial orders follow a wide investigation by the general prosecution in which evidence was collected from families of the dead and police at the demonstrations, the official said.
The move is likely to be hailed by rights and pro-democracy activists who have long accused Egypt’s widespread security apparatus of abuse and torture.
Earlier this month, new Interior Minister Mansur Essawy disbanded the long-feared State Security Investigations, the branch of the interior ministry that monitored political dissent after taking office on a pledge to restore confidence.
The reform was among the key demands of protesters who brought down Mubarak.
Essawy announced the establishment of a new security arm, called National Security, that would be restricted to “guarding the domestic front and battling terrorism.”
Insecurity has been rife in recent weeks, with political and religious clashes erupting around the country, in what the new cabinet described as a “counter-revolution” by diehards of the old regime.
On Tuesday, a fire broke out in an interior ministry building in Cairo, shortly after thousands of policemen protested there to demand better working conditions.
It was not clear what started the blaze. Protesters at the scene denied any involvement.
Earlier this month, protesters stormed and ransacked several state security buildings around the country, trying to retrieve files kept on the population by the security police.
They told AFP they had seen policemen set fire to documents and had seized them to prevent their destruction. Pro-democracy activists are keen on preserving the documents for evidence of alleged abuse.