For the second time in a week, prosecutors have brought new charges against deposed Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, suggesting that Egyptian authorities want to be certain he will be convicted of one offense or another.
Morsi, toppled in July by a popularly supported military coup, already faces trial in two other cases – one on charges of inciting the killing of protesters, and the other on charges of aiding terrorism and espionage. If found guilty, he could face the death penalty.
In the newest charges, which prosecutors referred to a criminal court on Saturday, the ousted president is accused of masterminding jailbreaks and a series of related offenses. Morsi escaped from prison in 2011, during the uprising against autocratic President Hosni Mubarak.
The government has stepped up its efforts to vilify Morsi and his followers in the Muslim Brotherhood, and the group has hit back with an ongoing series of street protests and an aggressive media campaign, much of it run from exile. The Brotherhood has set up a new satellite media channel based in Turkey, whose Islamist-leaning government has infuriated Egypt by calling for Morsi’s reinstatement.
In all the legal cases against him Morsi has co-defendants, many of them senior figures in the Brotherhood or his former government. Fourteen were charged along with him in November; 35 others were accused along with him in charges announced Thursday. In the case, there are nearly 120 co-defendants.