Morsi 'killing protesters' trial postponed to 4 February

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din, Ahram Online , Saturday 1 Feb 2014

Trial of Morsi and 14 other defendants on charges of inciting murder at the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace in December 2012 has been adjourned to 4 February

In this Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014 photo, 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.(AP Photo)

Mohamed Morsi is still the official president of Egypt, the ousted president's lawyer Mohamed Selim El-Awa told Cairo criminal court on Saturday during his client's trial on charges of inciting murder.

The trial at New Cairo’s Police Academy, which sees Morsi tried along with 14 others on charges of inciting murder at the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace in December 2012, was adjourned to 4 February in the Saturday session.

During the session, El-Awa told the court that Morsi is still the official president of Egypt because he did not resign from the presidency, there was no official order for his overthrow, and the country's official newspapers did not publish an official decision of Morsi's disposal.

El-Awa, who has defended many Islamist figures throughout his career, also said that most of the world's parliaments, citing examples in France and Lebanon, mandate special conditions for the trial of presidents, such as the approval of a third of parliamentarians.

He argued that the most senior members of the appeal court and constitutional court are typically members of the court for presidential trials, and that investigations are carried out by the prosecutor-general or his deputy.

Morsi is being tried in front of a criminal court, and the cases against him, of which there are several, have been investigated according to normal prosecution procedures. 

El-Awa also said that his role in the case has finished, and that those statements were the only defence he will give in the case.

At various points in the session Morsi and the other defendants turned their backs on the judges and raised their hands in the four-fingered "Rabaa" salute which symbolises the violent police crackdown on pro-Morsi protesters 14 August last year.

Other lawyers working for the defence denounced Interim President Adly Mansour's decision to constitute new court circuits to look into cases of terrorism. They said it is a clear sign that the executive authority is interfering with the judiciary.

The defendants' lawyers also called for the glass casing surrounding the dock to be removed, stating that defendants could not hear what was going on in the trial.

The court meanwhile unsealed exhibits in the case, which mainly consist of videotapes and pictures of clashes in December 2012 when Morsi's supporters attacked a small opposition sit-in near Ittihadiya, leading to nine deaths.

The session was adjourned in the afternoon until Tuesday, to allow a committee from the Egyptian Radio and Television to inspect videos relevant to the case.

The last session of the case, 8 January, was adjourned to 1 February as authorities could not transfer Morsi to the courthouse in a helicopter due to bad weather.

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

This is the third court appearance for Morsi. The first session in November marked the first time Egyptians and the world saw Morsi since he was ousted from power in July.

In that 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.

Morsi also appeared in court on Tuesday in a separate trial on charges of jail breaking, when he appointed El-Awa as his defence lawyer.

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

Morsi was removed from office by the military 3 July after millions of Egyptians called for his overthrow in mass protests.

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