A defiant Mohammed Morsi on Monday appeared at a court in Cairo to face charges of inciting murder and violence during the ousted Egyptian president’s year-long rule,even as his high-profile trial was adjourned to January 8.
Morsi,in his first public appearance since the army deposed him in July,called the court “illegal” and asserted: “I am Dr. Mohamed Morsi,the president of the republic…
“This court is illegal,” the 62-year-old Muslim Brotherhood leader said,clad in a suit rather than the customary white detention clothes.
He slammed his ouster and demanded that the military leaders,who staged the coup,face trial.
“This was a military coup. The leaders of the coup should be tried. A coup is treason and a crime,” Morsi said.
After Morsi’s remarks and his refusal to wear a uniform,the judge adjourned the trial until January 8 to allow prosecution and defence to examine documents.
During the trial,Morsi asserted that he is the “legitimate president of the country,” appealing to the “Egypt’s judiciary not to provide cover for the criminal coup d’etat,” in reference to his ouster on July 3.
Supporters of the leader protested outside the court and elsewhere.
At least 10 people died in the clashes at the Ittihadiya presidential palace in December 2012 which broke out after pro-Morsi protesters attacked a sit-in held by opponents of a presidential decree which had granted the Islamist leader expanded powers.
If found guilty,Morsi and 14 others could face lifetime imprisonment or death penalty.
The deposed Islamist president was brought from a secret military facility where he has been detained for the past four months.
He was flown down to the venue of the trial,a police academy in an eastern district here,by a helicopter.
In a last-minute change yesterday,authorities changed
the trial’s venue at Tora prison on the other side of Cairo,a
move apparently aimed at preventing mass rallies planned by
Morsi said he was brought to the court “by force” and asked the judges to allow him to practice his powers as president.
His co-defendants were brought to court in armoured vehicles from south Cairo’s Tora prison. Seven of the defendants are still at large and will be tried in absentia.
Security was beefed up around the trial’s venue to prevent any untoward incidents,with hundreds of black-clad riot police backed by armoured vehicles deployed around the sprawling complex.
Despite the tight security,supporters of both Morsi and Minister of Defence Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi,who ousted the Brotherhood leader,clashed outside the venue of the trial.
The heavily-fortified trial venue has already been transformed into a courthouse for the trial of another former president,Hosni Mubarak,who was toppled in a 2011 uprising.
The Muslim Brotherhood had earlier described the trial as an attempt by the current regime to put Morsi “behind bars,and fill Egypt with corruption,looting and authoritarianism.”
Morsi will be transferred to a special cell in the Tora Prison,Ahram Online quoted Mostafa El-Demeiry,one of the lawyers for the defendants,as saying.
The presiding judge Ahmed Sabry Youssef had to temporarily suspend the first session of the trial this morning twice as caged defendants chanted asserting the trial is illegitimate,Egypt state TV reported.
The trial proceedings were not aired.