March 23, 2011 / 8:19 AM / 9 years ago

Egypt committee charges Mubarak with killing protesters

CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian committee set up to investigate violence during demonstrations that toppled Hosni Mubarak has laid charges against the former president for the murder of protesters, a state newspaper said.

Egyptians look at a banner depicting Libya's Moammar Gadhafi, Egypt's Hosni Mubarak, Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh and Tunisia's Ben Ali during a protest against a referendum to amend the constitution during a protest at Tahrir Square in Cairo March 18, 2011. Egyptians vote on Saturday in a referendum on constitutional changes designed to allow free and fair elections but have splintered the reform movement that toppled Hosni Mubarak from the presidency. The vote has divided Egypt between those who say much deeper constitutional change is needed and others who argue that the amendments will suffice for now. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

The committee had also accused the former interior minister of ordering police to open fire at demonstrators, Al Ahram newspaper said on Wednesday.

The Public Prosecutor later referred Habib al-Adli and four other high-ranking officers for trial on charges of killing protesters, disrupting stability and of spreading “chaos in the country” that harmed Egypt’s economy, a statement said.

More than 360 people died in the uprising and thousands were injured when police fired rubber bullets, live ammunition, water cannon and tear gas at peaceful protesters.

The fact-finding committee submitted its charges to the Public Prosecutor’s office, saying Mubarak as the head of the government was criminally responsible for the deaths of the protesters.

The former interior minister is charged with responsibility for the withdrawal of policemen from the streets after January 28, when protesters violently clashed with security forces and the army was deployed.

Many Egyptians questioned why even traffic police had disappeared and some have blamed Adli for intentionally withdrawing security to spread chaos and to cause a security vacuum.

Dozens of prisons across the country were broken into. Egypt’s independent media said Adli had told officers to leave the prisons unguarded and some even accused the former interior minister of releasing criminals to the streets.

Egyptians complained about a security vacuum for over a month and said they had been terrorised by outlaws who carried out thefts, armed attacks on citizens and property and even broke into schools.

Adli is already facing trial for wasting public funds and money laundering.

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