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Egypt court judges presiding over Muslim Brotherhood trial resign

Three Cairo Criminal Court judges presiding over the trial of 35 Muslim Brotherhood [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] members and leaders resigned from the proceedings Tuesday without elaboration. Media outlets suggest [AP report] the judges stepped down because of pressure from Egyptian authorities to hold the trial inside Tora prison, a maximum-security facility currently housing the Brotherhood members. The trial began in August in the Criminal Court's chambers, but several high-level Brotherhood members, including Mohammed Badie, Khairat al-Shater and Rashad Bayoumy, failed to appear because of fear that a public appearance would incite protest. The court adjourned the trial [JURIST report] until Tuesday, but the judges' resignations will force the court to start the trial anew. The charges include incitement to violence in connection with a protest that killed nine people and wounded more than 90 near the group's headquarters in June.

Controversy continues to surround the transition following the Egyptian Revolution [JURIST backgrounder]. In October an Egyptian court dismissed charges [JURIST report] against former vice president Mohamed ElBaradei, who served as vice president in the government set up by the military, but stepped down in protest of the violence directed at protesters. Also in October an Amnesty International report showed Egyptian security forces used live ammunition [JURIST report] to disperse protesters. Earlier in October an Egyptian court set the trial date [JURIST report] for ousted president Mohamed Morsi for November 4. Along with Morsi, 14 other leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood will be tried on the same day. Earlier this month the Muslim Brotherhood filed a lawsuit appealing a court verdict [JURIST reports] ordering the interim government to seize the group's assets.

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