Egyptian prosecutors have referred the country’s ousted Islamist president Mohammed Morsi to trial on charges of defaming the judiciary. Morsi is already facing three separate trials on various charges.
The new charges against Morsi and 24 other defendants relate to "disrespect and hatred for the courts and the judiciary," in public, on television or on social media websites over the past three years, local and state news media reported Sunday.
It is the fourth case filed against Morsi since his military-backed July ouster, state news agency MENA reported.
The independent newspaper Al-Shorouk reported online that the charges against Morsi were expected to stem from a speech he gave in June criticizing the outcome of trials in which alleged rioters during the 2011 revolution were cleared.
The charges against other defendants, including politicians, media personalities, activists and lawyers, mostly relate to their alleged criticism of various court rulings, Al-Shorouk reported. If found guilty the accused could face up to six months in prison, a fine, or both.
Morsi is already facing charges of inciting the killing of demonstrators at a protest outside the presidential palace in December 2012, conspiring with foreign groups and organizing jailbreaks.
Only one case has opened and it is due to resume next month.
Morsi's July ouster was met with major, prolonged public protests, which were eventually quashed by security forces. More than 1,000 people have been killed since his removal from power.
Morsi narrowly won a runoff election in June 2012 but faced a difficult first year in office after the Egyptian uprising. The military opted to remove him from office after major public protests against his government, the largest of which were held in the capital, Cairo.
Following a two-day referendum vote last week, officials announced on Saturday that Egypt's new constitution passed with 98.1 percent of the vote.
Dissatisfaction with a proposed constitution formed and approved during Morsi's tenure was a key contributing factor in his downfall.
hc/ccp (AFP, AP, dpa)