Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court

The building housing Egypt's Supreme Constitutional Court is surrounded by supporters of then-President Mohamed Morsi. (Ahmad Hammad / Associated Press / December 1, 2012)

CAIRO -- Under Egypt's military-backed government, even some distinguished jurists have found it hard to keep from running afoul of the law.

Half a dozen leading members of the reformist group Judges for Egypt have been summoned before a judge looking into allegations the jurists formed an illegal organization, the state-owned Ahram website reported Monday.

The group, which advocates judicial independence, includes two former justice ministers and a former head of the appeals court, the website said, as well as others prominent members of the legal community.

The judges may have incurred the interim government’s wrath by announcing a boycott of a mid-January referendum on the country’s newly written constitution. The government sees that nationwide poll as an opportunity to bolster its legitimacy in the wake of the July coup that ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected leader.

The jurists’ group also angered some in the current administration by declaring Morsi the victor 2012 in presidential elections, which it had helped monitor, in advance of the initial official announcement. Morsi was overthrown by the army, following enormous public rallies demanding his removal.

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laura.king@latimes.com