CAIRO -- The only candidate running for president against Egypt’s former military chief, Abdel Fattah Sisi, has reportedly said that if elected he would put Sisi on trial in connection with the deaths of hundreds of protesters.
"I don't treat Sisi as a criminal, but I plan to bring him to court …. When I do this, I aim to heal wounds without opening up new confrontations," candidate Hamdeen Sabahi was quoted as saying by the Egyptian news outlet Youm7 on Friday.
Sabahi’s campaign denied the comments were his. But Youm7 posted an audio recording of a voice that sounded much like the candidate. According to Youm7, Sabahi was responding to a question over transitional justice in case he wins the presidency. He also said anyone proven responsible for demonstrators' deaths since the 2011 uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak should be held accountable.
Estimates announced separately by the National Council for Human Rights and the Muslim Brotherhood say that between 600 and 1,200 protesters were killed during the forcible dispersal of protest camps set up by backers of ousted Islamist President Mohamed Morsi last August. Hundreds more were killed during subsequent demonstrations.
Sisi, who led the popularly supported coup that ousted Morsi, quit his military post last month to be eligible to run for president as a civilian candidate.
In the posted recording, said to have been made during a meeting between Sabahi and a number of figures who took part in the uprising against Mubarak, the candidate also said that despite Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood being formally designated as a terrorist group, the killing of peaceful protesters should not be ignored.
Egypt's presidential vote is scheduled for May 26-27. Sisi is heavily favored to win.
Hassan is a special correspondent.