Mohammed Morsi trial adjourned until January
Egypt's deposed leader faces death penalty or life sentence if convicted of inciting murder
The judge in the trial of Egypt's deposed Islamist president and 14 others charged with inciting murder adjourned the case until Jan. 8 soon after it started today to allow the defence time to review evidence.
The move followed a delay in proceedings due to chants from the defendants and then a defiant statement from Morsi, who refused to recognize the court's authority.
His comments came in response to the judge calling his name out after identifying him as a "defendant."
Morsi replied: "I am Dr. Mohammed Morsi, the president of the republic. I am Egypt's legitimate president."
He added: "I refuse to be tried by this court."
It was the first time Morsi, who has been held at an undisclosed location since July, was given an opportunity to officially defend himself.
"This was his first chance to get in front of a judge and actually plead his innocence, which is exactly what he did," CBC's Derek Stoffel reported from Egypt.
Egypt's state TV reported the judge suspended the hearing for about an hour after it started two hours later than scheduled, because of the defendants' unruly behaviour inside a courtroom cage, Stoffel said.
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Security officials say the delay was caused by Morsi's insistence not to change into the white prison uniform customarily worn by defendants, part of his refusal to recognize the trial's legitimacy.
Morsi finally relented and put on the uniform after refusing to change out of his own clothes all morning, Stoffel said.
Egypt's state TV aired footage Monday of Morsi arriving in court in the first images captured of him since he was ousted. One clip shows Morsi arriving in a minibus outside the courtroom, buttoning up his dark blue jacket as he steps out of the vehicle. He is flanked by burly policemen. Another clip shows his co-defendants standing in two lines like a guard of honour and applauding Morsi as he joins them in the defendants' cage.
The official MENA news agency says Morsi, who has been held at a secret military location since his ouster in a July coup, was flown by helicopter earlier Monday to the venue of his trial — a police academy in eastern Cairo.
Outside the compound, groups of Muslim Brotherhood supporters gathered and taunted security forces, Stoffel said.
Reuters quoted a security source as saying the defendants will be moved to Cairo's Tora prison.
Morsi and 14 senior members of his Muslim Brotherhood are on trial on charges stemming from a riot last December outside Morsi's Cairo palace that left at least 10 dead.
They could all face the death penalty if convicted.
A new Cairo
Cairo has become a very different place in the past months. Its iconic Tahrir Square, the symbol of Egypt’s political revolution, has lost its chaotic, emotional feel. It’s now freshly sodded and closely watched by the police and military, closed off at the first sign of protests against the regime the generals appointed. At night, the country-wide curfew leaves this metropolis of 14 million dark and dead.
Order has even been brought to public debate. Those who cheer the new leadership (including Egyptians who once rejected military meddling in politics, including virtually every newspaper and TV station) are golden. Most others simply keep their criticisms to themselves, or face the wrath of neighbours, if not the authorities. There is little appetite for the kind of democratic debate Tahrir promised. Stability is the new public good.
The Muslim Brotherhood is often painted as the new social evil. Most of its leaders have been arrested, its members labelled terrorists, the organization banned. Very few Egyptians seem to disagree with this, even if most voters chose the Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi to lead them just 17 months ago.
Saša Petricic, CBC Middle East correspondent in Cairo
With files from The Associated Press