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Africa

Morsi declares himself Egypt's president at trial

© Photo: Screengrab of Morsi arriving for Monday's hearing

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-11-05

Deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi called for the “military coup” leaders that overthrew him to be prosecuted and declared that he was the “president” as he and 14 co-defendants appeared briefly in court on Monday.

A defiant Mohammed Morsi questioned the court’s legitimacy and called on the leaders of the “coup” that overthrew him to be prosecuted as he appeared for the first day of his trial - which was swiftly adjourned - for incitement to murder on Monday

The deposed Islamist president and his 14 co-defendants, all prominent Muslim Brotherhood figures, could face the death penalty if found guilty.

"I am Dr Mohammed Morsi, the president of the republic... This court is illegal," Morsi declared in the court.

"This was a military coup. The leaders of the coup should be tried. A coup is treason and a crime."

Morsi, wearing a dark blue suit, was brought to court by helicopter that touched down nearby and then driven to the heavily fortified police academy.

Applause in court

State television aired footage showing Morsi smiling as he stepped out of a white van, buttoning his blue blazer and entering the dock to applause from fellow defendants dressed in white prison uniforms.

The judge was forced to adjourn the hearing soon after it started because chants by the defendants were disrupting the proceedings, Egyptian state television reported. The trial is now due to resume on January 8.

Morsi’s trial marks his first appearance in public since he was ousted on July 3 and locked up in secret detention, virtually incommunicado. He plans to defend himself and his robust statement today has energised his supporters.

The trial raises fears of a resurgence of violence in the country with Morsi supporters planning widespread protests and police announcing a state of alert.

A coalition of Morsi backers from the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies have promised to "make this day an international day of protest” declaring “We will defeat this brutal traitorous military coup."

Security concerns are so high that the precise location of the trial was not made known until early on Monday.

Since Morsi’s ouster, the country has seen a deadly crackdown on his Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement, with more than 1,000 pro-Morsi supporters and dozens of security officials killed during clashes at protests.

Likelihood for real justice ‘compromised’

Rights groups have warned that Morsi may not receive a fair trial.

“What concerns me about this trial is that the justice system has been extremely selective and there has been almost near impunity for security services for the killing of hundreds of protesters,” said Heba Morayef, Egypt director for Human Rights Watch.

“And in that kind of environment of politicised prosecutions, the likelihood for real justice is compromised.”

The trial marks the first time the country has two ex-presidents on trial. Morsi’s predecessor Hosni Mubarak is currently on retrial after being convicted last year of complicity in the killing of demonstrators during the 2011 protests which led to his overthrow.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-11-03

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