January 18, 2015 / 4:48 PM / 3 years ago

Egypt's Mursi accuses army of role in deaths during 2011 protest

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s ousted Islamist president Mohamed Mursi accused the country’s army in one of his trials on Sunday of killing protestor during the 2011 uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Former Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi sits behind bars with other Muslim Brotherhood members at a court in the outskirts of Cairo, December 29, 2014. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih

Mursi, a Muslim Brotherhood leader who became president in June 2012, alleged in a statement from his metal court cage that the man who overthrew him one year later, then army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, played a role in the violence.

Citing testimony in what he called a fact-finding report, he did not name Sisi, who went on to become elected president. But he said that elements belonging to a sovereign body led by the “coup leader” took part in killing protesters.

There was no immediate comment from the army or presidency.

Egypt’s police, not the military, were widely believed to be behind a crackdown against hundreds of thousands of protestor in Cairo’s Tahrir Square during the revolt that ended Mubarak’s three-decade rule in February 2011.

“The fact-finding mission that I formed had testimonies from hotel managers,” said Mursi. “Some people entered the rooms and then fired from these rooms. They were from a sovereign body led by the coup leader.”

“Why I did not rush to arrest those who killed the protestor? Because I wanted to protect the military institution,” he said.

Sisi, who had served as chief of military intelligence under Mubarak, ousted Mursi in July 2013 after mass protests against his rule. The government and military say Mursi’s removal was not a coup, but rather a response to the will of the people.

After Sisi overthrew Mursi, security forces cracked down on Muslim Brotherhood supporters, killing hundreds at street protest camps and arresting thousands.

Human rights groups have said Egypt has returned to an authoritarian state, allegations denied by the government.

Mursi faces several trials. On Sunday, he appeared in court on charges of conspiring with the Palestinian militant group Hamas against Egypt, accusations he denies.

“Regarding the case in which I am charged with conspiring with Hamas, this is a big honor,” Egypt’s state news agency quoted Mursi as saying in court.

Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Tom Heneghan

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