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Trial date for alleged perpetrators of Kerdasa violence set for end of March

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Defendants facing trial for the deadly violence that occurred in August and left around a dozen policemen dead in the Giza village

Egyptian policemen evacuate Giza security chief Nabil Farrag after he was shot during a raid in the village of Kerdassah on the outskirts of Cairo, on September 19, 2013. Farrag was killed when Egyptian security forces stormed Kerdassah in the latest crackdown on Islamist militants, security officials said.  (AFP PHOTO / AHMED ALI)

Egyptian policemen evacuate Giza security chief Nabil Farrag after he was shot during a raid in the village of Kerdassah on the outskirts of Cairo, on September 19, 2013. 

The Cairo Court of Appeals set on Saturday the date for the trial of 188 defendants accused of breaking into the Kerdasa police station and murdering several police officers in a deadly attack last August.

The trial is scheduled to begin on 27 March. Of the defendants, 143 are currently in custody and arrest warrants have been issued for the remaining 45. They are facing charges of committing acts of terrorism, murder, attempted murder, vandalising public facilities, theft, possessing firearms, explosives and melee weapons and enabling the escape of detainees from inside the Kerdasa police station.

In the early hours of 19 September, security forces launched a massive operation which included police and military personnel to implement the “prosecution’s orders to arrest a number of terrorists and fugitives” involved in the deadly attack on the Kerdasa police station on 14 August, which left at least 11 policemen dead.

This occurred on same day in which security forces dispersed the Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Al-Nahda sit-ins, both organised to show support for ousted president Mohamed Morsi, leaving hundreds dead. The violence was not just restricted to the village of Kerdasa, which lies close to the Giza plateau that hosts the Giza Pyramids, but also occurred in the nearby village of Nahia.

According to investigations, cited by state-run MENA, one of the defendants, a former member of parliament from the Freedom and Justice Party, held a meeting in his house prior to the dispersals of the sit-ins to prepare a plan “to confront the state” if the sit-ins are dispersed.  It was agreed during the meeting that escalatory and offensive procedures against police forces and public facilities would be used, the investigation said. Prosecutors allegedly presented the defendants with videos showing them committing the crimes.

Hours before the operation began, the Muslim Brotherhood’s English Twitter account Ikhwanweb tweeted: “Kerdasa in Giza is under attack by police and army forces; civilians are being terrorised.”

During the operation, Giza Deputy Director of Security Nabil Farag was shot dead and a military funeral was held for him the next day. His funeral was attended by Defence Minister Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawi and Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim.

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