CAIRO – Prosecutors opened an investigation of ousted President Mohammed Morsi on charges including murder and conspiracy with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, fueling tensions amid a showdown in the streets, as tens of thousands of backers of the military and supporters of Morsi held rival mass rallies Friday across Egypt.
The announcement, which is likely to pave the way to a formal indictment, was the first word on Morsi’s legal status since the military deposed him on July 3. For more than three weeks, the Islamist leader has been held by the military in a secret location, incommunicado.
The accusations are connected to a prison break during the 2011 uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak in which gunmen attacked a prison northwest of Cairo, freeing prisoners including Morsi and around 30 other figures from his Muslim Brotherhood. The prosecutors allege Morsi and the Brotherhood worked with Hamas to carry out the break, in which 14 guards were killed.