Egypt's Morsi trial reset to 1 February as fog prevents his transfer to court

Ahram Online, Wednesday 8 Jan 2014

Ousted president Mohamed Morsi was due for court early on Wednesday for his 2nd trial session on charges of inciting murder, but bad weather grounded the transfer helicopter

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

A Cairo criminal court has adjourned to 1 February the trial of ousted Islamist president Mohamed Morsi and 14 other co-defendants, all charged with inciting murder, due to Morsi's inability to reach the courthouse, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported.

Alexandria Security Chief Nasser El-Abd told state TV that the helicopter set to transfer ousted president Mohamed Morsi for the trial session, scheduled to start at 10:30am Cairo Local Time, could not take off from his Alexandria prison due to bad weather conditions.

Earlier on Wednesday morning, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website had reported that the helicopter flying the toppled leader was en route to the courtroom.

Morsi was to be transferred by helicopter from the heavily guarded Burg Al-Arab Jail, west of Alexandria, to the Police Academy in New Cairo for the trial proceedings -- which were not be televised.

Morsi's appearance on Wednesday would have been his second public sighting since the army deposed him last July after millions protested his troubled year-long rule. His first appearance took place during the first session of the trial on 4 November.

One out of three trials

Morsi and 14 co-defendants face trial on charges of inciting murder and violence outside the Presidential Palace in December 2012, when thousands of his supporters attacked a small opposition sit-in staged to protest a constitutional declaration issued by Morsi granting himself extra powers.

The ensuing clashes led to the deaths of nine people.

Morsi's co-defendants, seven of whom are being tried in absentia, include prominent Brotherhood members Mohamed El-Beltagi and Essam El-Erian, as well as several Morsi aides and other well-known Islamist preachers and activists.

The first session, which took place in November, marked the first time Egyptians and the world saw Morsi since he was ousted from power in July.

The ousted president, El-Beltagi and El-Erian also stand trial in a separate espionage case.

Additionally, Morsi is scheduled to appear in another trial on 28 January – along with 130 others – in a January 2011 jailbreak case.

The pro-Morsi National Coalition to Support Legitimacy had called for mass protests at Wednesday's trial venue.

Egypt's Interior Ministry had said Morsi's high profile Wednesday trial would be secured by 20,000 police officers.

Morsi was removed from office by the military on 3 July after millions of Egyptians called for his overthrow in mass protests. The Brotherhood-dominated Shura Council was dissolved and the constitution drafted by the group and its allies was subjected to extensive amendments. The amended charter is to be put to a referendum on 14 and 15 January.

The Brotherhood-led National Coalition to Support Legitimacy has said it does not recognise the legitimacy of the trial claiming Morsi has been kidnapped by an "illegitimate authority."

In the first court session, Morsi attempted to disrupt the proceedings by insisting he was still the legitimate president and denounced the trial as a farce. Morsi's co-defendants also condemned the army and chanted against the judiciary.

Behind the scenes

Prominent Brotherhood leader Essam El-Erian told reporters from inside the dock that he, along with others, had been forcibly brought to the trial venue.

He labelled the trial "unconstitutional," and a "political reprisal," asserting that Morsi maintains the same stance, according to Ahram Online's reporter at the courtroom.

Most of the defendants have gone on a hunger strike and their condition has worsened, El-Erian claimed.

Meanwhile, Morsi's son, Osama, said he had been "unlawfully" barred from attending the trial.

Osama, who is a member of the defence team of Morsi's co-defendants, said via Facebook that his father "did not, and will never acknowledge investigations or trials that do not respect constitutional legitimacy," in reference to the ousting of the president which Islamists dub a "coup."

Islamist thinker Mohamed Selim El-Awwa, another member of the defence team, was also denied entrance by security forces, Al-Ahram's Arabic news website reported.

Security was fortified around the trial venue where several armoured vehicles and dozens of policemen were stationed.

Police dispersed dozens of Morsi supporters who had gathered near the courthouse in Eastern Cairo, arresting 10, security sources told Ahram Online.

The protesters shouted anti-military slogans, with some flashing the Brotherhood's four-fingered salute.

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