The trial of former Egyptian President Mohammad Morsi has adjourned after its first session. Morsi declared in court he was still the president of Egypt and that the court had no right to try him.
After a session lasting just a few hours on Monday in Cairo, the presiding judge adjourned proceedings until January 8.
Morsi appeared in court to face charges of doing nothing to stop violence that led to the death of protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012. A further 14 high-ranking officials from the Islamist group Muslim Brotherhood, which supports Morsi, also stood trial in the same court.
The trial was interrupted briefly at the beginning when some of the defendants began shouting slogans denying the legitimacy of the court.
Morsi himself also denounced the court’s legitimacy, saying when asked to identify himself as a defendant, “I am Dr. Mohammed Morsi, the president of the republic. I am Egypt’s legitimate president … I refuse to be tried by this court.” He also said it was the “leaders of the coup” who should be tried.
One year in power
Morsi came to power in June 2012 after national elections that followed the ouster of the country’s former dictator, Hosni Mubarak. He became Egypt’s first democratically elected leader.
A year later, protesters dissatisfied with Morsi’s rule and the increasing influence of the Muslim Brotherhood staged a coup and unseated Morsi from power.
Following Morsi’s ouster in July, supporters from the Muslim Brotherhood maintain his legitimate mandate to lead as the country’s elected president.
Since the July coup, protests and clashes between Muslim Brotherhood supporters and security officials have led to over 1,000 deaths. The simmering conflict boiled over in August when security forces cracked down on pro-Morsi camps in Cairo.
Possible new location
Morsi has been detained at a secret location since July. He was flown in for the trial in Cairo by helicopter. Monday marked his first public appearance since being taken into custody.
Media reports indicate Morsi has now been transferred to a prison in southern Cairo. His trial is scheduled to continue on January 8, 2014.
There was a heavy police presence around the police academy in Cairo where the trial was being held. Around 20,000 police had been deployed and were ready to quickly rein in any trouble that occurred. Some minor scuffles between Morsi supporters and opponents were reported, but so far there has been no indication of serious violence.
mz/jlw (dpa, AFP, AP)