Egypt: Mohamed Morsy trial halted by defendants’ chanting

Posted at 6:15 AM, Nov 04, 2013
and last updated 2013-11-04 06:15:47-05
CAIRO (CNN) — The trial of deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy was interrupted when defendants began chanting in court Monday.

The interruption caused an adjournment soon after the beginning of what was expected to be a brief opening hearing, state-run Al Masriya TV said.

The 15 defendants chanted that the trial was illegitimate, Al Masriya reported. There was no immediate word on how long the adjournment would last.

Al Masriya also said Morsy refused to wear the white uniform that was assigned to him and the other defendants.

A peaceful protest

Outside the police academy where the hearing was being held, dozens of pro-Morsy demonstrators faced a cordon of security forces.

The protest was peaceful, but several hundred people have died in clashes between pro-Morsy demonstrators and security forces since the military removed him from office in a coup July 3.

Authorities have warned they will crack down on any violent protests tied to the trial.

First freely elected leader

Morsy became Egypt’s first freely elected president in 2012 after the overthrow of longtime strongman Hosni Mubarak.

His detractors said he was a tyrant trying to impose conservative values. But supporters, including the Muslim Brotherhood, said the military coup was a power grab by the military and elements of the old Mubarak regime.

The criminal charges against Morsy and 14 other defendants stem from protests last December 5 over a constitution he shepherded into effect. Egyptian authorities have accused Morsy and his staff of ordering supporters to attack protesters after guards and members of the Interior Ministry refused to do it.

Morsy is not among the 11 defendants accused of using force. They are charged with killing three men, torturing 54 people and possessing weapons.

Constitutional claim

Defense lawyer Mohamed El-Damaty told CNN that Morsy’s team will argue that it is illegal under the constitution approved under Morsy to try a president without approval of two-thirds of the members of the parliament. The military suspended that constitution, but the court could honor it, El-Damaty said.

Morsy has been held at an undisclosed location since the coup. Amnesty International has described his detention as an “enforced disappearance.”

CNN’s Ian Lee reported from Cairo; David Simpson wrote from Atlanta. CNN’s Yousuf Basil and Christine Theodorou contributed to this report.

™ & © 2013 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.