CAIRO Germany urged Egypt to avoid "the appearance of selective justice" on Thursday following the arrests of some senior leaders of deposed President Mohamed Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood.
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle was speaking to journalists alongside his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy, who responded by saying: "There is no justice of vengeance and no selective justice. There is law and it applies to everyone."
His remarks were translated into German.
On Wednesday the Egyptian authorities decided to refer the Brotherhood's three top leaders, including its general guide Mohamed Badie, for trial on charges of inciting violence. Badie has not yet been arrested. His two lieutenants are in custody.
Mursi has been in detention in an undisclosed location since he was deposed by the army on July 3. He faces a judicial inquiry into accusations that he conspired with the Palestinian Islamist Hamas group during his escape from prison during 2011. He is also accused of murder.
"All appearance of selective justice must be avoided," said Westerwelle.
Germany had pressed for access to Mursi by neutral parties and welcomed a visit made by European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton earlier this week, Westerwelle said.
Asked whether Germany viewed Mursi's removal as a military coup, he said: "These are first minutes of an historic hour ... You cannot judge a movement conclusively which is still in flow."
(Reporting by Shadia Nasralla; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Alistair Lyon)