Egypt speaker 'plotted battle of the camel'

Safwat al-Sharif and 24 others to be tried for murder over the deadly mounted charge on Tahrir Square in February.

    Two dozen suspects have been charged in the camel attack at Tahrir Square on February 2 [GALLO/GETTY]

    Investigators have found that a former speaker of Egypt's upper house of parliament was behind the "battle of the camel" in which government loyalists rode horses and camels through the protest camp in Tahrir Square.

    The fact-finding judicial committee ruled on Thursday that Safwat al-Sharif masterminded the February 2 assault that left left several protesters dead in one of the bloodiest days in the uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak's presidency.

    The mounted attack, which included whip-wielding riders, led to street clashes and was later seen as a pivotal event in rallying more Egyptians to the anti-government cause.

    The investigation concluded that Sharif, former secretary-general of Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP), and other parliamentarians had hired thugs to attack crowds and that he urged them to "kill the protesters if they had to", the state-run MENA news agency reported.

    Sharif is said to have "contacted MPs, members of the NDP and financiers of the party, inciting them to disperse the protests in Tahrir Square by force and violence", according to the MENA.

    Along with Sharif, Fathi Surur, a former lower house speaker, stands accused of "inciting murder and killing protesters", a judicial official told the AFP news agency.

    The judge leading the investigation has referred Sharif, Surur and 23 other suspects to a criminal court to face murder charges for their involvement in the camel incident, according to MENA and agency reports.

    The country's new military rulers have vowed to bring to justice all those found guilty of abuse. If convicted, the 25 suspects could face the death penalty.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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