Egypt to try 31 over murder of Shia cleric

Cairo: Thirty-one defendants are to go on trial in Egypt later this month on charges related to the 2013 killings of four Shia Muslims outside Cairo, a court statement said on Thursday.

The four, who included a leading cleric Sheykh Shahada, were killed on June 23 last year when a hostile mob attacked a house where they had gathered in the village of Abu Mussalam in Giza province to observe Muharram.

The charges include the murders of the four men, the attempted murders of 13 others, vandalism and arson. The trial is due to open on December 21.

The killings came the month before the army ousted elected Islamist president Mohammad Mursi and followed weeks of toxic anti-Shia rhetoric in the Egyptian media and from extremist Islamist leaders.

Mursi’s office condemned the killings.

Shias, who once ruled Egypt under Fatimid’s, are now a tiny minority in the country.

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