EGYPT: Deposed president Mohamed Morsi’s murder trial disrupted when he refuses to wear prisoner uniform in court

DEFIANCE OF THE DICTATOR: Egypt’s deposed president claimed the court has no right to try him because he was the country’s legitimate leader in a court appearance after four months in secret detention. Trial postponed to Jan. 8th because of raucous Muslim Brotherhood disruptions outside the courthouse.

An image grab taken from Egyptian state

UK Daily Mail  (h/t Frederic F)  Mohammed Morsi, 62, was flown in by helicopter to the Cairo police academy compound where the trial was being held before being transferred to the courtroom by minibus. He rejected the court’s authority to try him and claimed that those that overthrew him should be on trial instead.

The trial was then adjourned until Jan. 8 after several interruptions. If convicted, Morsi and 14 other defendants could face the death penalty. The country’s first freely elected president (turned dictator) has been held at an undisclosed location since the military ousted him in a coup on July 3.

In a last-minute change, authorities on Sunday switched the trial’s venue in a move apparently aimed at thwarting mass rallies planned by Morsi’s Brotherhood. He appeared in court wearing a dark blue suit, but no tie. He had refused to wear a prison uniform as the judge had ordered, according to security officials.

Morsi's supporters angrily raged outside the court
Morsi’s supporters angrily raged outside the court

Morsi and 14 co-defendants, prominent figures from his Muslim Brotherhood, face charges of inciting the killing of protesters who massed outside the presidential palace in December, demanding he call off a referendum on a new constitution drafted by his Islamist allies.

Brotherhood members attacked a sit-in by the protesters, sparking clashes that left 10 people dead.  The longtime Brotherhood leader rejected the proceedings and said he had been forced to attend. ‘This is a military coup whose leaders must be put on trial in accordance with the constitution,’ Morsi told the court.

Egyptian policemen arrest a supporter of ousted president Mohamed Morsi during a protest in Ramses Square on the first day of Morsi's trial
Egyptian policemen arrest a supporter of ousted president Mohamed Morsi during a protest in Ramses Square on the first day of Morsi’s trial

‘I am the president of the republic and I am here against my will,’ he said. ‘What is happening here is providing cover for the military coup,’ he said, as his co-defendants chanted ‘down, down with military coup.’

Monday’s raucous session reflected the highly charged atmosphere of a nation deeply polarised between Morsi’s Islamist supporters, and the military-backed administration and moderate Egyptians who support it. 

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The start of the hearing was delayed by nearly two hours over what the officials said was a dispute over Morsi’s refusal to wear a prison uniform, part of his rejection of the trial’s legitimacy. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity.

The judge, Ahmed Sabry Youssef, had to adjourn the hearing twice because the chants disrupted the proceedings. The proceedings were adjourned until January 8 to allow defence lawyers to review documents, the court’s secretary said.

State TV initially reported he was to be transferred to the main prison in Cairo where his co-defendants are being held. But later it reported he was being taken to a prison in the desert near Alexandria.