Court frees police as unity government eyed

Jan. 31, 2013 at 10:33 AM
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CAIRO, Jan. 31 (UPI) -- Eight Egyptian security officers were acquitted Thursday of killing protesters during the 2011 uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, officials said.

The defendants, who included the former head of the Sharqiya Security Directorate, and seven of his deputies, had been charged with attempted murder and inciting the killing of peaceful protesters, al-Masry al-Youm reported.

The security officers were termed scapegoats by the judge before he read the verdict, saying they had carried out their duty to secure police stations from attack.

Only two police officers have been convicted and sentenced to prison of 135 defendants facing charges tied to the deaths of protesters during the uprising, the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights said.

The verdict was delivered as rival political groups sat around a table to urge President Mohamed Morsi to form a unity government in hopes of ending days of violence across the nation, The New York Times reported.

In attendance were Mohamed ElBaradei, a former U.N. diplomat; Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister in the Mubarak era, and Saad al-Katatni, the head of Morsi's Freedom and Justice Party.

Morsi has rejected the idea of a unity government. He has said a new administration will be formed only after elections in April.

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