Egypt PM assures probe into weekend crackdown

Essam Sharaf apologises for violence against demonstrators in Tahrir Square and calls for judicial investigation.

     Army and security forces raided the square early on Saturday morning to break up the protests [AFP]

    Essam Sharaf, the Egyptian prime minister, has apologised for a violent crackdown on demonstrators in Cairo at the weekend and said he would seek a judicial investigation, the state MENA news agency has reported.

    "In response to demands by the people to find out the facts about what happened in Tahrir Square at dawn on Saturday, I have asked the minister of justice to take the necessary steps towards that," Essam Sharaf said in a speech that he had prepared for broadcast on Egyptian television, MENA said on Monday.

    "All of us, the people, the army and the government, feel regret for the events of last Saturday," Sharaf said in a speech broadcast on Egyptian television."

    Egypt's military rulers have enjoyed broad support since the uprising against Hosni Mubarak, the former president, but complaints against them have steadily been growing.

    On Friday, thousands of protesters packed into Tahrir Square in one of the biggest demonstrations to take place since Mubarak was ousted.

    A hard core of protesters remained in the square overnight, protecting at least seven army officers who had joined them, in contravention of explicit orders not to do so from military authorities.

    Army and security forces raided the square early on Saturday morning to break up the protest, resulting in the death of at least one person and injuries to 71 others.

    Soldiers and police used tasers and batons to try to drive out the protesters.
       
    The army blamed the violence on members of Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

    Responding to a statement by Mubarak on Sunday that he and his family were not guilty of corruption, Sharaf said that no one was above the law and that legal steps would be going ahead, MENA said.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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