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Friday, 18 September 2020

Trial of Mohamed Morsi at Police Academy begins, suspended, adjourned

Defendants chant against legitimacy of court, Judge temporarily suspends proceedings twice; deposed president was flown to court on 1st day of trial for inciting murder of protesters in 2012; Judge adjourns to 8 January, 2014

ElSayed Gamal Eldeen, Ayat El-Tawy, Yasmin Fathi, Monday 4 Nov 2013
File photo of former president Mohamed Morsi (Photo: Reuters)
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The judge presiding over the trial of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and 14 co-defendants adjourned the case to 8 January, 2014 to allow prosecution and defence to examine documents.

The defendants, who are accused of inciting violence and murder in December 2012 against opponents, will remain in jail.

Mohamed Morsi will be sent to Borg Al-Arab prison on the outskirts of the city of Alexandria in the north of the country, according to Egypt state TV.

The rest of Morsi's co-defendant's will return to Tora prison in south Cairo.

The judge had to temporarily suspend the first session of the trial on Monday morning twice as caged defendants chanted asserting the trial is illegitimate, reported Egypt state TV.

Morsi, who was ousted by the army on 3 July amid mass protests against him, has reportedly announced that he would not recognise the authority of any courts claiming he remains the country's legal president.

The trial proceedings were not aired.

Morsi and 14 other senior Islamists and Muslim Brotherhood figures are standing trial on charges of inciting violence and murder at the Ittihadiya presidential palace clashes in December 2012.

At least ten died and 600 were injured in the clashes, 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.

Footage which circulated on social media outlet showed Brotherhood supporters at Ittihadiya abducting, beating and abusing anti-Morsi demonstrators for hours at a time during the clashes.

Morsi attacks court

During the session, Mohamed Morsi asserted that he is the "legitmate president of the country," calling on "Egypt's judiciary not to provide cover for the criminal coup d'etat," in reference to his ouster on 3 July.

Morsi added that he was brought to court "by force" calling on the judges to allow him to practice his powers as president, reported Al-Ahram Arabic news website.

According to Ahram Online reporter, minor scuffles broke out inside the court between supporters and opponents of the deposed president.

Morsi had arrived at court earlier than expected on Monday morning, amid security concerns over possible violence by his supporters.

The deposed president had been transported by helicopter to court at the Police Academy in New Cairo earlier in the morning.

His co-defendants were transferred to court via armoured vehicles from south Cairo's Tora prison.

The defendants include: former deputy chairman of the Freedom and Justice Party Essam El-Erian, former deputy chief of staff of the presidential palace Asaad Shiha, former presidential office manager Ahmed Abdel-Ati, former presidential advisor Ayman Hodhod, leading Brotherhood figures Mohamed El-Beltagy and Alaa Hamza, Islamist media figure Abdel-Rahman Ezz, Islamist youth figure Ahmed El-Mogheer, Salafist leader Gamal Saber, and Islamist religious figure Wagdy Ghoneim.

Seven of the defendants are still at large and will be tried in absentia, including Islamist activist Ahmed El-Mogheer and preacher Wagdi Ghoneim.

Defence, supporters, opponents

Before the session started, Ayman Nihad, lawyer for 14 of the defendants, told Ahram Online he would request incorporating reports into the case that accuse then interior minister Ahmed Gamaleddin of "responsiblity for the killings."

The attorney said he would also request access to all documents in the case after the court had denied lawyers permission to examine evidence prior to Monday's opening session.

Lawyers and journalists who secured the appropriate permits entered the court shortly after 10am.

Defence attorneys for the deposed president included prominent lawyer and Islamist thinker Mohamed Selim El-Awa who reportedly recieved a warm welcome by Morsi loyalists who chanted: "Where is the press, the honourable man is here."

El-Awa, a former presidential candidate, complained that many of Morsi's lawyers are not being allowed into court.

According to the Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party website, only 4 out of 28 of Morsi's lawyers were allowed in court.

"This did not happen during Mubarak's trial," El-Awa told reporters outside the court.

Security arrangements by both police and military surounding the court have been intensified.

The pro-Morsi National Alliance to Support Legitimacy on Sunday reiterated its call for supporters to rally at the court on Monday.

According to Ahram Online reporter outside the academy, several dozen Morsi protesters had gathered near army barricades surrounding street entrances to the trial venue chanting "down with military rule," and "With our lives and blood we defend Islam."

Morsi supporters also chanted against general commander of the armed forces Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi.

Many pro-Morsi protesters were reluctant to speak to the media unless its Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera channel, which is known for its Brotherhood bias.

One pro-Morsi demonstrator Gamal Azzab, told Ahram Online: "I'm not a protester. I’m a sympathiser with president Morsi after the coup has sabotaged his legitimacy. The 2012 constitution that all Egyptians had voted for states that a president stays for four years."

Meanwhile, a few anti-Morsi protesters chanted "down with the traitor, down with the terrorist." 

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