Mohammed Morsi tells judge his court is 'illegitimate'
Former Egyptian president's 'circus-like hearing' adjorned until 8 January
THE trial of Mohammed Morsi has been adjorned to 8 January after the former Egyptian president declared the court 'illiegitimate' and refused to remove his suit and wear a prison uniform, the BBC reports. There was "so much noise and disruption during what was at times almost a circus-like hearing" that the judge had to adjourn proceedings twice. Morsi refused to remove his suit and don a white prison uniform and kept repeating: "This is not a legitimate trial, this trial is part of the coup; the coup itself is a crime." Egypt was on high alert as the trial got underway at a police academy in Cairo. But what is Morsi charged with, is his trial legitimate and will it bring renewed violence to the streets of Egypt? Here are five key questions:
What is Morsi charged with?
Morsi and 14 senior members of his Muslim Brotherhood party are charged with "inciting the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace", the BBC reports. The charge relates to the deaths of at least 10 people who were killed in December 2012 during intense clashes which followed a decree that gave Morsi "wide-ranging powers". Morsi could face the death penalty if convicted, Sky News says.
Are the charges considered legitimate?
Certainly not by Morsi's supporters, who believe the legitimately elected president was deposed by a military coup and his detention constitutes a kidnapping. The Muslim Brotherhood accuses the army-installed government of "fabricating" the charges and have called for anti-military protests. Morsi's senior communications adviser, Wael Haddara, told the BBC that the trial was a "charade" because everyone involved in the proceedings has been appointed by the military. "What is the military afraid of?" Haddara said. "Why won't they let him speak? Even prisoners have rights." Morsi, who still regards himself as Egypt's president, plans to defend himself because engaging a lawyer would be an "indirect acknowledgement of the court's authority", The Guardian says.
Where is the trial taking place?
Morsi's trial was due to take place at Cairo's Tora prison, but was switched to the city's Police Academy late on Sunday in an apparent bid to deter protesters, the BBC says. The new venue, on the Eastern edge of the city, has been carefully chosen to limit the scale of protests. It appears to be working as the BBC reports a relatively small crowd of about 200 protesters has assembled outside the building today. Morsi was flown to the academy by helicopter and was glimpsed wearing civilian clothes - the first sighting of the former president since he was ousted on 3 July. State TV reports that the trial was temporarily halted because of Morsi's refusal to wear prison clothes, and by chanting from the dock.
What is the US saying about the trial?
The US has "put a brave face on badly strained relations", says CBC News. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Egypt on Sunday, a visit that appeared to be aimed at easing tensions between Washington and Cairo, the Financial Times says. While the US has refrained from describing Morsi's removal from power as a coup, it has withdrawn some military aid from Egypt. Referring to his comments earlier this year that the Egyptian generals were "restoring democracy" when they toppled Morsi, Kerry said: "Thus far there are indications that this is what they are intending to do."
Morsi the only former Egyptian president on trial at the moment?
Bizarrely, no. He isn't even the only former Egyptian president on trial at the police academy. Hosni Mubarak - toppled during the 2011 uprising - is being retried at the same building. Unlike Mubarak's trial, "the proceedings against Morsi are not likely to be aired live", Haaretz reports. ·