Officials face torture charges in Egypt

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CAIRO -- Two Muslim Brotherhood officials have been sent to trial on charges of kidnapping and torturing three men during protests in November following Islamist President Mohammed Morsi's decrees, since rescinded, that granted him near-absolute powers.

The case in the Nile Delta city of Damanhour, north of Cairo, is the first of its kind against Morsi's Brotherhood and is likely to embarrass the group as it is trying to fend off opposition charges of monopolizing power in the deeply polarized country.

Mohammed Bahnasy, a lawyer for the three victims, told The Associated Press yesterday that the case was referred to trial a day earlier. The two Brotherhood local officials -- Mustafa el-Khouli and Mohammed Abdel-Radi -- have not been detained.

An arrest warrant has been issued for el-Khouli, who has failed to respond to a summons for questioning, according to Bahnasy. Abdel-Radi was questioned and released pending the start of the trial, according to him and another lawyer involved in the case, Mohammed Abdel-Aziz.

The Brotherhood's chief lawyer, Abdel-Monaim Abdel-Maqsoud, said the decision to refer the two to trial was "hurried" and called the investigation "flawed." He told the AP defense witnesses showed up Saturday at the prosecutors' office to testify that el-Khouli and Abdel-Radi were innocent, only to be told it was too late.

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"Everything will now have to wait for the trial," he said. "I am surprised at the speed with which this has been done. We have many cases of Brotherhood victims of violence and we have not seen any of them go to trial yet."

It was the first of case its kind since the ouster two years ago of autocrat Hosni Mubarak, he said. -- AP

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