Egypt's ex-president appears in court in soundproof glass cage

Jan 28, 2014

Mohammed Morsi silenced by government as he faces charges relating to 2011 jail break

EGYPT'S deposed president Mohammed Morsi was put in a soundproof glass cage during an appearance in a Cairo court today. 

The cage, previously unheard of in Egyptian courts, shows the "extraordinary measures that the new government is using to silence" the former president, the New York Times says. During Morsi's first court appearance in November he disrupted proceedings by refusing to wear a white prison jumpsuit and repeatedly declaring he was still Egypt's legitimate leader.

Morsi was back in court today to face charges relating to his escape from prison during the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. It is alleged that he and some 130 others, including members of his banned Muslim Brotherhood and Lebanon's Shia militant group Hizbollah, escaped with help from the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Morsi's supporters insist the prisoners left the jail because the guards had abandoned their posts. They also "question why the charges were not brought before Morsi became president given that the circumstances of his escape from prison were already well known", The Guardian says.

Egyptian state television had planned to cover Morsi's appearance at the court, which has been convened at a heavily-guarded police academy in eastern Cairo. But the live broadcast was cancelled shortly before the start of proceedings, the NYT says.

Instead, Egyptian viewers were shown "short clips" of Morsi – wearing a white jumpsuit this time – in the glass cage. The brief coverage also showed a second cage holding a further 20 defendants.

No other news organisation was allowed to report from the courtroom, the NYT says.

A microphone in the cage was switched on briefly to allow Morsi to "acknowledge his presence" in the court. Seizing his opportunity, the former president shouted: "I have been absent from the world since the fourth of January and haven't met anybody from my family or my defence. I'm the legitimate president of Egypt."

The microphone was quickly switched off, the NYT says.

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