The charges are a rare acknowledgement of the alleged role that some of the president’s supporters have had in attacks on his opponents.
Mohammed Bahnasy, a lawyer for the three victims, told The Associated Press on Sunday that the case was referred to trial a day earlier. The two Brotherhood officials – Mustafa al-Khouli and Mohammed Abdel-Radi – have not been detained.
Al-Khouli was identified by Bahnasy and Abdel-Aziz as the administrative head of the Brotherhood’s office in Damanhour. They said Abdel-Radi is a senior member of the local branch of the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party.
An arrest warrant has been issued for al-Khouli, who has failed to respond to a summons for questioning, according to Bahnasy. Abdel-Radi was questioned and released pending the start of the trial, according to him and another lawyer involved in the case, Mohammed Abdel-Aziz.
The Brotherhood’s chief lawyer, Abdel-Monaim Abdel-Maqsoud, said the decision to refer the two to trial was “hurried” and described the investigation as “flawed.”
“Everything will now have to wait for the trial,” he said. “I am surprised at the speed with which this has been done. We have many cases of Brotherhood victims of violence and we have not seen any of them go to trial yet,” said Abdel-Maqsoud.
The US State Department has suggested this month that Egypt was selectively prosecuting those accused of insulting the government while ignoring or playing down attacks on anti-government demonstrators.
Opponents of Mursi also accuse him of trying to dominate state institutions such as the judiciary.
The president has said he is working to rid the government of corrupt remnants from the era of Hosni Mubarak, ousted by a popular uprising in 2011.
The prosecutor’s office in Damanhour said on Sunday that the men were accused of detaining and beating the students in November at the Brotherhood office in the Nile Delta city during clashes between opponents of Mursi and his Islamist supporters.
Bahnasy said the referral documents leave no room for doubt that the alleged detention and torture of the three men took place in the Brotherhood’s Damanhour offices and quotes witnesses as saying they had seen sticks, tasers and swords inside the group’s headquarters.
The clashes in Damanhour were part of a wave of protests and violence set off by Mursi’s decree in November to temporarily expand his powers and prevent court challenges to his decisions.
The crisis triggered by Mursi’s decree deepened the divisions in Egyptian society, mainly between the increasingly empowered Brotherhood and its allies and other groups that fear what they see as autocratic tendencies of the Islamist group.
The prosecutor’s office referred the case to trial on Saturday, court officials said. It was not immediately clear when the trial would take place.
Brotherhood officials in Cairo were not immediately available for comment.
(Reuters, AP, Al-Akhbar)