Middle East

Egyptian 'Battle of the Camels' officials acquitted

Man on a camel in Tahrir Square, Cairo (2 Feb 2011)

An Egyptian court has acquitted 24 former officials who were accused of sending men on camels and horses to break up a protest in Cairo in 2011.

In the incident, later called the Battle of the Camels, supporters of then President Hosni Mubarak charged protesters in Tahrir Square.

It became one of the most notorious incidents of the anti-Mubarak uprising and left nearly a dozen people dead.

Some senior members of the old regime were among those accused.

They included the men who were then speakers of Egypt's two houses of parliament, Fathi Srur and Safwat al-Sherif.

Prosecutors said Mr Sherif, who was also the secretary general of Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NPD), had "contacted MPs, members of the NDP and financiers of the party, inciting them to disperse the protests in Tahrir Square by force and violence".

They alleged he told them to "kill the protesters if they had to", AFP reports.

A 25th defendant died during the legal proceedings.

Tahrir Square was the focal point for the tens of thousands of who joined the uprising, and the Battle of the Camels helped to galvanise support for the protesters.

The BBC's Jon Leyne in Cairo says the verdict is likely to infuriate many Egyptians.

It is also likely to be an embarrassment to Mubarak's successor, Mohammed Morsi, our correspondent adds, who has promised to bring to justice all those responsible for killing opposition supporters during the revolution.