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Court rejects recusal request in Morsi trials

Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy and senior Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed El-Beltagy called for the judges to be replaced in their trials for espionage and escaping from prison

Ahram Online, Wednesday 9 Apr 2014
Mohamed Morsi
Egypt's ousted President Mohammed Morsi stands 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, Jan. 28, 2014 (AP Photo)
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An appeal court has refused to recuse the judges in two cases involving ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy and senior Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed El-Beltagy had demanded the recusal of the judges in their trials for espionage and escaping from prison.

They claimed the court was unconstitutional because Morsi was still Egypt's legitimate president, the court had premeditated opinions of the defendants, and one judge had publically stated his opinion about one of the defendants.

The appeal court ordered Hegazy and El-Beltagy to pay LE6,000 in fines for each of the two recusal cases.

In the prison break trial, the charges are linked to the escape of inmates, including senior Brotherhood figures such as Morsi, from Wadi El-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."

They are charged with damaging and setting fire to prison buildings, murder, attempted murder, looting prison weapons depots, and allowing prisoners from "Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah, jihadists, Brotherhood [members] and other criminals" to escape from jail.

In the espionage trial, Morsi and 35 other leading Brotherhood figures stand accused of collaborating with foreign organisations, namely "Hamas in Gaza," to commit acts of terrorism in Egypt, revealing defence secrets to a foreign country, funding terrorists and organising the training of militants "to achieve the purpose of the international organisation of the Brotherhood," according to a prosecution statement.

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