A defiant Morsi says he is still Egypt's legitimate president
Opponents of army-backed government say the trial is part of a wider campaign to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood • Morsi to be sent to Tora prison • Trial not being aired on state television, journalists barred from bringing phones to proceedings.
Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff
The trial against former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi begins
Photo credit: AP
Ousted Egyptian leader Mohamed Morsi struck a defiant tone on the first day of his trial on Monday, chanting "Down with military rule," and calling himself the country's only "legitimate" president.
Morsi, who was toppled by the army in July after mass protests against him, appeared angry and interrupted the session repeatedly, prompting the judge to adjourn the case.
Opponents of Egypt's army-backed government say the trial is part of a campaign to crush Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement and revive a police state.
Morsi and other Islamists facing trial on charges of inciting violence will be moved to Cairo's notorious Tora prison after their court session was adjourned, a security source said.
Morsi had been held in an undisclosed location since the army ousted him on July 3. A judge adjourned Morsi's trial to Jan. 8.
It is the second time in just over two years that an overthrown president has been in court in Egypt, with Morsi's appearance following the earlier trial of ousted president Hosni Mubarak.
The trial is not being aired on state television and journalists were barred from bringing their telephones into the courtroom, which has been set up in a Cairo police academy.
Morsi, dressed in a blue suit and held in a cage, made a Brotherhood hand gesture to express his disgust at a crackdown on the protest camp that was razed by security forces in August.
"This trial is illegitimate," said Morsi, prompting the judge to adjourn the session. Proceedings were expected to resume later on Monday.
The now-banned Muslim Brotherhood has said it will not abandon the street protests it has staged to pressure the army to reinstate him.
But a heavy security presence across the country served as a reminder of a crackdown in which hundreds of Morsi supporters were killed and thousands more rounded up.
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Sunday described Egypt as a "vital partner" in the region, saying he could see indications that Egypt was moving toward democracy. He was apparently trying to repair relations hurt by the partial freeze in U.S. aid to Egypt.
"As I told [Egyptian Foreign Minister Nabil] Fahmy in our meeting this morning, Egypt is a vital partner to America in this region," Kerry told journalists at a joint news conference with Fahmy.
"The roadmap is being carried out to the best of our perception," he said.
Kerry acknowledged that last month's decision by President Barack Obama to freeze some military aid as well as $260 million in cash, pending progress on democracy and human rights had not gone down well in Cairo.
"Of course we understood that the decision with respect to some aid, which has been held back for a period of time, we knew that in some places, obviously, that wouldn't be well received. But it's not a punishment, it's a reflection of a policy in the United States under our law," Kerry said. "We have a law passed by the United States Congress regarding how certain events unfold with respect to the change of a government of a country; and we're bound by that. President Obama has actually worked very, very hard to be able to make certain that we're not disrupting the relationship with Egypt."