Rights activists and Muslim Brotherhood officials expressed fury today at the acquittal of 24 people accused of ordering a violent attack on Tahrir Square protesters last year.
The 24 - who included the ex-secretary-general of former president Hosni Mubarak's National Democratic Party Safwat el-Sherif and former parliamentary speaker Fathi Sorour - were found not guilty of manslaughter or attempted murder over involvement in the "camel battle" of February 2 2011.
A government-appointed commission had previously found that Mr Sherif had "masterminded" the attack and ordered party officials to "curb anti-Mubarak protests with violence."
The battle saw assailants riding camels and horses attack anti-Mubarak crowds in Tahrir Square. Twelve protesters died in the ensuing fight - but despite these deaths having been officially acknowledged Judge Mustafa Abdullah said he believed the testimony of an army general who said no-one was killed.
Mr Abdullah said witness testimony was "driven by grudges against the defendants due to partisan differences" and that some of them had criminal records, including for perjury.
But Muslim Brotherhood official Mohammed el-Beltagi said the acquittal was a farce and demanded that President Mohammed Morsi - also a member of the brotherhood - order a retrial.
The prosecutor-general's office said a lawyer has been commissioned to review the reasons for the verdict, a signal that it is likely to appeal.
Human rights lawyer Gamal Eid said some evidence presented to the court had been ignored and that other evidence was tampered with. He also noted that witnesses had changed their testimony - possibly due to intimidation.
But fellow lawyer Ahmed Ragheb said the ruling was no surprise.
"The acquittal doesn't mean this didn't happen or that so-and-so did not commit the crime. It means the evidence is not enough.
"This is the case in most of the other trials involving the killing of protesters because the police, who are accused in the killings, are the ones collecting evidence."
Mr Ragheb called for "a new justice system to protect the revolution."
He said: "The current judicial system is not qualified to try the state. It is part of it."
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