UPDATED: Morsi's 'espionage' trial adjourned to 27 February

Ahram Online, Sunday 23 Feb 2014

The trial was postponed to look into demands made by the defence team

Toppled president Mohammed Morsi in courtCairo, Egypt, January 28, 2014 (Photo: AP)

The trial of 36 Muslim Brotherhood leaders including former president Mohamed Morsi on charges of espionage, was adjourned to 27 February to look into demands made by the defence lawyers related to the trial procedures.

Morsi and the 35 other Brotherhood figures stand accused of collaborating with foreign organisations to commit acts of terrorism in Egypt, revealing defence secrets to a foreign country, funding terrorists and organising military training "to achieve the purposes of the international organisation of the Brotherhood," according to a statement from the prosecution.

The prosecution specifically accuses them of collaborating with Gaza-based Hamas, Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah and other organisations "inside and outside" of Egypt to smuggle arms, organise military training for group members in the Gaza Strip and fund a scheme to stir chaos and threaten national security in Egypt.

Morsi’s previous defence team, headed by prominent lawyer Selim El-Awa, withdrew in the first session of last week to demand the removal of a soundproof glass booth in surrounding the defendants in their cage during court sessions.

In response, the court appointed ten new defence lawyers.

According to Al-Ahram Arabic news website, one of the defence lawyers assigned by the court requested on Sunday the removal of the glass cage “in order to preserve the reputation of the Egyptian judiciary.” He also asked for the coming trial sessions not to be aired on television.

Another defence lawyer assigned to the case by the court said that Morsi is still “the legitimate president.”

The lawyers representing Safwat Hegazy and Mohamed El-Beltagy, who said they represent all the defendants, requested that the judges in the case be changed. However, the lawyer defending Ayman Ali, the former head of Morsi’s media office, insisted that the judges not be changed. 

Defendant Ibrahim El-Darawy, who is a journalist, has announced he is on a hunger strike.

The lawyer representing Mohamed Refaa El-Tahtawi, Morsi’s ex-chief of staff demanded the release of his client, due to the lack of evidence against him.

Defendants for their part briefly chanted behind the sound-proof box “hold on hero, your blood is liberation for the nation” before the audio feed was cut off by the judge.

Defence complaints

Last week Hussein Farouq, one of the defence lawyers, told Ahram Online that the court’s decision to assign lawyers invalidates the trial, as the defendants had only authorised the original defence team to represent them.

The glass boxes were installed to prevent the defendants disrupting the trial, as they had done repeatedly in earlier appearances.

Lead defence lawyer Mohamed Selim El-Awa told Ahram Online that Morsi’s defence team would not attend court until the glass boxes are removed.

The charges against the defendants span the period from 2005 to 2013.

The defendants include Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, former speaker of parliament Mohamed El-Katatni and Ahmed Abdel-Ati, ex-head of Morsi's presidential office.

Nineteen of the defendants, including Morsi, are already behind bars. The public prosecutor has issued an arrest warrant for the remaining 17.

Morsi also faces a number of other charges in separate court cases, including counts of incitement to murder and of breaking out of prison in 2011.

Short link: