Mohamed Morsi trial: Lawyers for deposed Egyptian president walk out in protest at 'cage'

Morsi stands accused of 'the biggest case of conspiracy in Egypt's history'

It has been dubbed the trial for the "biggest conspiracy in Egypt's history", but the court case against deposed President Mohamed Morsi got off to a chaotic start today when his defence lawyers staged a walk-out.

According to reports on state TV, Morsi's legal team was angered by the use of a soundproof glass cage installed in the dock to contain the former leader and his co-defendants.

Lawyers said the measures isolated the defendants from proceedings, and Morsi was later reported to have shouted that he could not hear what was going on.

Judge Shaaban el-Shamy has been given sole control over microphones inside the glass cage, which was installed after the defendants disrupted earlier proceedings by chanting slogans.

The judge initially sent technicians in to raise the volume of speakers inside the dock, but when defence lawyers said they were still dissatisfied El-Shamy declared the court could proceed without them.

The trial was ultimately adjourned with the dispute unsettled, with the hearing ordered to reopen on 23 February.

It is the first in a case which sees Morsi and 35 others facing charges of espionage, conspiring with foreign groups and undermining national security.

Morsi was ousted by the military when protesters demanded he step down after just one year in power. He, together with leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood, now face four separate trials on a range of charges, some of which carry the death penalty.

The charges for today's trial accused the Brotherhood of being in talks with terrorists since 2005 over deals aimed at winning and holding onto power, of plotting the collapse of police and prison breaks during the 2011 uprising that forced former dictator Hosni Mubarak from power, and of organizing the Sinai militant backlash.

"The biggest case of conspiracy in Egypt's history goes to the criminal court," the prosecution proclaimed in an announcement making the trial public in December.

Read more:
Are protesters overthrowing a brutal despot, or merely bad losers at the polls?  

Additional reporting by AP

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