31 suspects referred to court in Shiite murder case

CAIRO: South Giza prosecution referred Sunday 31 suspects to criminal court, accused of murdering and mutilating the bodies of Sheikh Hassan Shehata, a well-known Shiite, and four others in June 2013, Youm7 reported.

Only two suspects are in police custody, as prosecution authorities ordered the arrest of 29 others, some of them have not attended the investigations, and others were released by court verdict earlier after not being convicted in other cases.

Defense lawyer Ragab Louli told Youm7 Sunday, the suspects are either accused of committing the murder or incitement to murder.

On June 16, during a Cairo Stadium press conference by former Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi, Sunni sheikhs expressed support for Syrian rebels and condemned Bashar al-Assad’s regime supported by Iran. That was followed by referring to Shiites (who in Egypt number between 500,000 and one million, state-run Al-Ahram reported in 2013) as “non-believers.”

A violent mob stormed the house of Sheikh Hassan June 23, when several Shiite leaders were gathered inside. The mob attacked the house, forcing the victims to come outside, where they were tortured, beaten them to death, then dragged in the street.

Video footage showed people gathering around a body soaked in blood, chanting “Allah Akbar,” people dragging bodies as others kept asking if it was the body of Shehata.

Body mutilation is a violation to Islamic norms, which states that a dead person should be honored by burying. Furthermore, it has been reported that the attackers gathered at a mosque in the neighborhood of Haram in Giza, near Shehata’s house, and were incited to violence before the attack.

Morsi and the Brotherhood faced a strong backlash, as politicians accused them of provoking sectarian fights, mainly through the “hate speech” which preceded.

Amr Moussa, the then-chairman of the Congress Party said the speech was “prejudiced” and that the regime “divided Egyptians instead of protecting them,” in a press statement the next day.

Mohamed Baradei, the chairman of the Dostour Party, called on authorities and Al-Azhar to “save what was left of our humanity,” describing the speech as “repulsive.”

Additional reporting by Amer Mostafa.

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