CAIRO (AP) — An Egyptian court on Sunday said Muslim Brotherhood members conspired with Hamas, Hezbollah and local militants to storm a prison in 2011 and free 34 Brotherhood leaders, including the future President Mohammed Morsi.
The court statement read by judge Khaled Mahgoub named two members of Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood — Ibrahim Haggag and Sayed Ayad — to be among the alleged conspirators in the attack on Wadi el-Natroun prison on Jan. 29, 2011.
It is the first statement by a court that holds members of the three Islamist groups — the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, the Palestinian Hamas, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah — responsible for a series of jailbreaks during the chaos of Egypt’s 2011 uprising. Two other prisons in which Hamas and Hezbollah members were held were also attacked.
Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders have maintained that they were freed by local residents. Hamas, the Palestinian chapter of the Brotherhood, has denied involvement in the attacks on prisons.
The court statement is likely to further fuel opposition to Morsi’s rule just a week before his opponents are scheduled to stage massive protests to force him out of office. The planned June 30 demonstrations mark his first anniversary in office as Egypt’s first freely elected leader.
The past year has seen growing polarization as Egypt struggles with a host of problems that many accuse Morsi of failing to effectively tackle. They include surging crime, rising prices, power cuts, fuel shortages and unemployment.