Egyptian trials to mark purge of extremists

The countdown for the purge of religious extremists in Egypt will start soon with the trials of late President Anwar Sadat's asassins and their associates, writes Monitor contributor Olfat M. El Tohamy.

The indictment bill includes the 24 accused of direct involvement in the Oct. 6 assassination, including Sadat's four assassins and 20 others charged with premeditated crime and conspiring to overthrow the regime.

President Hosni Mubarak has vowed to rid Egypt of ''black terror,'' and promised in a recent speech that his predecessor's unprecedented asassination is ''a warning for all Egypt to purge itself from this epidemic.''

The court-martial will start Nov. 21. Egyptian officials say it is likely all the trials will be public, which could embarrass top officials who insisted the Army remained loyal. Maj. Khalid Istanbuli and the mastermind of the plot, Lt. Col. Aboud al Zomor, are both officers.

Meanwhile, the questioning of 700 suspects arrested since the assassination continues, but a separate trial is expected. While the search for dissidents still continues, there are signs of a loosening of the tight security measures taken in the aftermath of the assassination.

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