Who are you? Mohammed Morsi takes on judge in Cairo court as he faces charges over jailbreak

Supporters of the ousted Egyptian President clashed with police and a minister’s aide was shot dead

Cairo

Egypt’s toppled President Mohammed Morsi stood alone in a soundproof glass-encased metal cage at the start of a new trial wearing a white prison uniform, pacing and shouting angrily at the judge in apparent disbelief: “Who are you? Tell me!”

Morsi is on trial with 130 others, including Muslim Brotherhood leaders, and militants from the Palestinian Hamas group and Lebanon’s Hezbollah, over charges related to prison breaks at the height of the 18-day 2011 uprising against his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.  After five hours, the trial was adjourned until 22 February.

The trial coincided with the third anniversary of one of the most violent days of the revolution that plunged the country into prolonged turmoil, and that eventually led to the virtual collapse of the police and their withdrawal from the streets.

Morsi supporters clashed with police in central Cairo. In two separate attacks, gunmen also killed an aide to the country’s interior minister in a drive-by shooting outside Cairo and a policeman guarding a church in a southern section of the capital.

Security forces also deployed heavily and erected checkpoints in the city as they braced for more violent protests by Morsi supporters.

The former Islamist president, ousted in a popularly-backed coup last July, also declared to the judges during an unaired part of the hearing that he remains Egypt’s legitimate leader, a state television reporter inside the courtroom said. In aired edited TV footage, defendants chanted that their trial was “invalid.” Earlier, they turned their back to the court to protest at their prosecution.

Trial of former Egypt president Mohammed Morsiadjourned to 1 February after fog halts helicopter flight bringing him to court

In the footage shown on state television, Morsi protested at being in a cageand then raised his hands in the air and angrily  yelled in apparent disbelief: “Do you know where I am?”

Judge Shabaan el-Shami responded: “I am the head of Egypt’s criminal court!”

Egyptian army chief Al-Sisi set to be next President after backing from leading generals

A promised live broadcast from the court was cut, and a senior state television official told local media that security forces had demanded this.

Authorities claim the jailbreaks in the charges were part of an organised effort to destabilise the country. Rights groups have called for an independent investigation into them, and claim the police were responsible.

AP

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