Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered on Monday the detention of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammad Badei for 15 days pending an investigation into allegations he was complicit in the death of protesters outside the presidential palace in December last year.
Badie, 70, was arrested in an apartment close to Rabia al-Adawiya square, where Islamist supporters of deposed President Mohammad Mursi held a vigil before it was cleared in a bloody crackdown by security forces last week.
An Al Arabiya correspondent reported Badie was being taken to Tora prison, the same Cairo prison that former President Hosni Mubarak is now being held.
Badie was charged in July with incitement to murder in connection with protests before Mursi's ouster and is due to stand trial on Aug. 25 along with his two deputies, Reuters reported.
Footage shown on local media showed the bearded leader sitting grim-faced in a grey robe near a man with a rifle following his detention in Cairo in the early hours.
The release of the images seemed designed to humiliate the Brotherhood chief, whose arrest means the group's top echelon is now behind bars, with other leaders dropping out of sight, according to Reuters.
After decades of underground political activism, the Muslim Brotherhood rose to prominence following the Jan. 25, 2011 revolution when it helped oust Hosni Mubarak from power.
Its well-drilled social network propelled it to grab power when its member Mursi was elected president in 2012.
But Mursi’s failure to co-optation liberal forces coupled with worsening economic conditions eroded the Brotherhood’s popular support.
Also claims that the Islamist movement is pursuing a secret agenda to control Egypt and spread its ideology in the region further tarnished its image and it made it hated by many Egyptians.
Following Mursi’s ouster, was portrayed in Egyptian media a violent al-Qaeda-linked militant group. The Muslim Brotherhood denies the use of violence, saying accusations against it are part of a smear media campaign intended to legitimize a bloody crackdown against its members.