“I am the legitimate president of the country, and this trial is not legal.”
Ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi struck a defiant tone with those words at his trial Tuesday in a Cairo courtroom.
As NPR’s Leila Fadel tells our Newscast unit, Morsi is standing trial in three different cases. Leila reports:
“Today, he and over 100 others are charged with aiding and participating in a prison break during the 2011 uprising. His other charges in separate cases include espionage and inciting violence. Critics and human rights groups have called the charges politicized and in some cases fantastical.”
Tuesday is the third anniversary of the jailbreak case during which several police officers were killed.
Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, and his fellow defendants were kept in a soundproof glass box – which some news reports called a glass cage — during the trial. The New York Times reported:
“The soundproof cage, previously unheard-of in Egyptian courts, demonstrated the extraordinary measures that the new government is using to silence Mr. Morsi, who stole the spotlight by disrupting the first session of his trial in November. Appearing then in a dark business suit instead of the usual white prison jumpsuit, he seized the moment to insist noisily that he was the fairly elected president and the victim of an illegal coup.”
It was Morsi’s second appearance in court since he was ousted in a military-backed coup in July amid nationwide protests against the Islamist leader who draws much of his support from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Egypt’s official Al Ahram newspaper has more on the proceedings:
“TV footage showed Morsi in white prison garb, nervously pacing back and forth in a cage in the courthouse, alongside other Islamist defendants who shouted ‘null, null’ at the judges, whose legitimacy they refuse to acknowledge. Morsi also shouted at the judge, telling him: “Who are you?” The judge simply said “I’m the head of the Criminal Court” in response.”
The trial was adjourned until Feb. 22.
Morsi was brought to court by helicopter from a prison in Alexandria, Al Ahram reported.
Morsi’s court appearance comes a day after Egypt’s military announced that Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi should run for president. If he contests the April elections, Sissi is widely expected to win.