Morsi 'jailbreak' trial suspended after defence recusal motion

El-Sayed Gamal El-Deen, Monday 24 Feb 2014

Cairo criminal court suspends the trial of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and co-defendants accused of jailbreak during the January 2011 uprising pending decision on defence team's latest motion

Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi stands,on Jan 28,2014, inside a glassed-in defendant's cage during his trial on charges related to the prison breaks at the height of the 18-day 2011 uprising against his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.(AP Photo)

A Cairo criminal court suspended on Monday the trial of ousted president Mohamed Morsi, charged will jailbreak in 2011 along with other co-defendants, until it decides whether or not to accept the defence's latest motion for the court to recuse itself.

The defence team based the motion on four arguments.

It argued that the court lacks legitimacy since, the lawyers said, Morsi remains the "president of the country."

Second, the team argued that placing the defendants in a soundproof glass cage prevents them from following the proceedings of the trial, thus violating their right to a fair hearing.
The court also failed to investigate leaks to the media of privileged defendant-attorney conversations, the defence team argued.

Fourth, the lawyers claimed, the court is acting in a punitive manner towards the defendants by ignoring all defence demands. 

The defendants are accused of charges linked to the escape of inmates, including some senior Muslim Brotherhood figures such as Morsi, from Wadi Al-Natroun Prison during the early days of the 2011 revolution.

Morsi and 130 co-defendants are accused of "carrying out a plot to bring down the Egyptian state and its institutions."

Prosecutors have charged defendants with damaging and setting fire to prison buildings, murder, attempted murder, and looting prison weapons depots, while allowing prisoners from "Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah, jihadists, Brotherhood [members] and other criminals" to break out of jails.

Last week, the lawyer representing Morsi and 35 other Muslim Brotherhood figures in a separate case on espionage charges withdrew his defence team, prompting the court to appoint 10 new lawyers and postpone the trial until 23 February.

Defence lawyer Selim El-Awa said he objected to the soundproof glass boxes in which the ousted president and other defendants have been forced to remain during court proceedings which they previously interrupted by chanting against the military.

Morsi spoke during the trial, claiming that he is still the legitimate Egyptian president. He also called on Egyptians to continue the peaceful revolution.

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