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Egypt security men accused of killing protesters

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By DIAA HADID
The Associated Press
Wednesday, March 23, 2011; 4:52 PM

CAIRO -- Egypt's public prosecutor made an unprecedented sweep Wednesday against the top security brass, charging the former interior minister and other officials with aiding the killing and the attempted killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak.

The charges are the first move by Egypt's military-appointed provisional government to hold former officials accountable for the killings of some 300 demonstrators during mass protests that toppled Mubarak's regime on Feb. 11 after nearly 30 years of rule.

A parliamentary committee recommended Mubarak face similar charges, Egypt's leading newspaper, Al-Ahram, reported Wednesday, but the public prosecutor has so far held back from accusing the former ruler of complicity in the violence surrounding the demonstrations.

The charges are in stark contrast to the almost total freedom that security forces had during Mubarak's reign, when thousands of Egyptians faced humiliations large and small - ranging in severity from torture to paying off police to dodge falsified charges.

Top prosecutor Abdul-Magid Mahmoud said former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, who is in prison on other charges, and the heads of the state, public and central security agencies aided the killing of protesters during the uprising that began in January.

Also charged with aiding the killing were the former heads of security in Cairo, the seaside metropolis of Alexandria and the pyramids neighborhood of Giza, as well as officers and police in 11 Egyptian provinces.

"They killed and wounded a number of citizens as they protested peacefully in these provinces," Mahmoud said in a statement released to official media. Some were also charged with corruption.

The charges clear the way for a newer generation of midlevel security officials to assume the top positions.

A court date to hear the charges is expected to be set soon.

Also Wednesday, Egypt's military rulers endorsed a package of constitutional amendments that were adopted in a nationwide referendum, paving the way for parliamentary and presidential elections within months.

The amendments were overwhelmingly approved by Egyptian voters on Saturday. Critics fear the swift timetable could boost the Muslim Brotherhood and members of the former ruling party.

Wednesday's declaration by the Supreme Council of Armed Forces - Egypt's top decision making body since Mubarak's ouster - did not set an election date.

The military rulers have said before that they want to quickly hand over power to a civilian government.

The amendments eased conditions for independent candidates to run elections and limited presidents to two four-year terms. They also seek to ensure fair and free elections.

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Additional reporting from Maggie Michael in Cairo.


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