An Egyptian prosecutor has referred six local journalists to trial for allegedly spreading "false news" that defamed the justice minister.

Prosecutor Fathy Bayoumi said Wednesday that the six were sent to court after investigators found that they "intentionally published false information to defame" Justice Minister Ahmed al-Zind.

The reports said al-Zind, as head of the powerful Judges Club, sold state lands to a relative at below market price. The accused include editors from the state-owned Al-Ahram news website and Abdel-Haleem Kandeel, a well-known journalist.

Al-Zind has generated controversy in the past by defending the decades-old practice of giving priority to the children of judges when hiring for the judiciary.