By Menna Mourad
Ten defendants accused of murder, attempted murder, and causing damage to St Mark’s Cathedral during clashes at the cathedral in early April were released on bail on Monday.
Defence lawyer Tharwat Bekhiet says that the defendants were to be released on bail of EGP 2000, but the prosecution “didn’t like” the verdict and appealed against it.
The 10 defendants, including 4 Copts, denied the accusations. The Coptic defendants claimed that they were attacked during the funeral procession for those who were killed in Al-Khasous the day before and were seeking shelter in the Cathedral. Muslim defendants also denied the allegations, maintaining that they intervened to protect the Copts.
Bekhiet held the Ministry of Interior and the police officers of the Al-Waily police station responsible for the clashes and stated that the government should prosecute the “doer” before the “tool”.
“If we are going to charge [the detainees], let’s charge all the popular committees that have protected the streets from the 25 January Revolution until today,” he added.
According to the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) fact-finding committee’s report, clashes broke out between Muslim and Christian families on 5 April when Christian children allegedly drew crosses on the walls of an Islamic institute in Al-Khasous, resulting in the death of one Muslim and five Christians as well as several injuries.
Clashes broke out again during the funeral procession after mourners chanted against President Mohamed Morsi and Prime Minister Hesham Qandil.
Mourners in attendance chanted “Egypt is our country and we will not leave it” and “we will get their rights, or we will die like them”.