Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood leader Badie set to face trial Sunday

CAIRO -- The spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, who was arrested early Tuesday, will stand trial with other members of the Islamist organization on charges that include inciting murder, Egyptian prosecutors said.

The arrest of Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie dealt another demoralizing blow  to the Brotherhood amid a crackdown by the military to silence dissent and build support for its control of the nation after the removal of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.

State media reported that the charges against Badie and five other Brotherhood members stem from the June killings of anti-Morsi demonstrators during clashes outside the group's headquarters in Cairo.

In addition to inciting murder, prosecutors accuse Badie of attempted murder and supplying Brotherhood youth with arms and ammunition, the Al Ahram news website reported Tuesday. Judge Tamer Araby, head of the south Giza prosecution office, told the site that Badie had been referred to the criminal court for a trial set to begin Sunday.


Badie was arrested in a Cairo apartment. In police custody, the 70-year-old spiritual leader was shown dressed in a gray tunic, looking shaken. The image distilled the desperation the world's most influential Islamist organization faces against an army that appears determined to crush it.

Most of the Brotherhood’s top leaders, including Khairat Shater, its chief strategist and financier, and Morsi, who was overthrown in a coup last month, are in detention or have gone underground. Much of the group’s strategy appears to have shifted to the Anti-Coup Alliance, an umbrella group the Brotherhood organized to protest Morsi’s downfall.

The army's crackdown on the Brotherhood has been ferocious. Police raids on two Brotherhood sit-ins last week and the protests and violence that ensued killed more than 900 Morsi supporters, many of them shot by live ammunition fired by security forces that have shown little restraint.

"When the hand of oppression extends to arrest this important symbol," the Brotherhood said in a statement regarding Badie, "that means the military coup has used up everything in its pocket and is readying to depart."

Western governments and human rights groups have condemned the violence, but the Egyptian military, led by an increasingly confident Gen. Abdel Fattah Sisi, has framed the struggle as one between terrorists and a patriotic state. Millions of Egyptians support this narrative, and the Brotherhood in recent days has been unable to muster the large street demonstrations it has promised.

Public sentiment has deepened against the group, especially after Monday's killing of 25 police officers by Islamic militants in the Sinai Peninsula. Those deaths appeared to be retaliation for the suspicious deaths one day earlier of at least 36 Brotherhood members who were in police custody.

More than 1,000 Brotherhood members in major cities and across the provinces have been arrested in recent days. Its communication has largely been reduced to Twitter feeds and Facebook posts. The group has also faced personal tragedies: Badie’s son, Ammar, was killed in protests on Friday, and the daughter of prominent member Mohamed Beltagy died in a police raid last week.

Badie's replacement as supreme guide is Mahmoud Ezzat. Ahram Online described Ezzat as a member of the group since the 1960s who has been arrested several times over the decades for his opposition to the government.


Twitter: @JeffreyLAT

Staff writer Alexandra Zavis in Los Angeles contributed to this report.