Morsi's suit and statements in court cause controversy

Ahram Online , Monday 4 Nov 2013

The deposed president's refusal to wear the customary uniform for defendants and recognise the court or its proceedings on Monday stirred debate

Ousted president Morsi
Ousted president Mohamed Morsi along with other Islamist defendants in the cage during the first session of their trial (Photo:AP)

Several legalities caused debate and controversy on Monday during the trial of ousted president Morsi and 14 other Brotherhood officials.

Among concerns was the legal status of the former president, who refused to wear the customary white uniform for defendants of criminal proceedings, instead opting to wear a full suit in the court room.

Judge Zaghlol El-Belshi, vice president of the appeals court and the minister of justice's former aide, said that Morsi should wear the temporary detention uniform like the rest of the defendants.

"The police are obliged to make Morsi wear the defendant's uniform," said Judge El-Belshi to Ahram’s Arabic gate on Monday.

"Not wearing it will not stop the trial. However, the court can penalise Morsi for violating the criminal procedures law," said the judge, adding that it was not the ousted president's right to address the public in political speeches.

"He is only allowed to defend himself against the charges brought against him, and in the case of not listening to the court's orders, the judge can demand the police remove him from the court and ban him from attending future sessions," Judge El-Belshi added.

The ousted president already addressed the judge during the trial as "the legitimate President," adding that he did not recognise "the court or the trial."

Another point of controversy concerned Morsi’s defence. Lawyers appointed by the Freedom and Justice Party to defend the ousted president and his co-defendants claimed that the President of Egypt, according to Constitution 2012, could not be prosecuted except in a special court after the approval of two-thirds of the People's Assembly.

"This defence is legally not valid, because Morsi is not longer the president of Egypt; he has been ousted by a public revolution on 30 June 2013," said Judge Ahmed Ouda to Ahram’s Arabic news site.

"He is no longer the president. Additionally, he is being prosecuted for criminal charges committed during his period of rule. Criminal charges follow the defendant, and thus the trial is legally valid," Judge Ouda, who is also a leading member in the liberal Wafd party, added.

Both judges, Ouda and El-Belshi, agreed that the defence of the Freedom and Justice Party's lawyers was invalid because the 2012 constitution was officially suspended, according to the constitutional declaration issued Morsi's ouster.

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