Lawyers for Egypt's Morsi walk out of latest trial

Sally Nabil reports from Cairo, where she says the lawyers walked out in protest at the glass dock

Lawyers for deposed Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi have walked out of his trial on charges of espionage and conspiring to commit acts of terror.

The trial has now been adjourned until 23 February.

The lawyers withdrew in protest at Mr Morsi and other defendants being confined in a soundproofed glass cage.

The Islamist former leader is facing four separate trials, three of which have now opened.

Mr Morsi was brought to Cairo's police academy on Sunday morning by helicopter from the Burj al-Arab prison where he is being held.

In this trial, he and 35 others are accused of working with Lebanese and Palestinian groups to carry out attacks in Egypt.

Mr Morsi has been put in the soundproof cage in recent appearances to prevent him shouting and disrupting proceedings.

The defendants have said they cannot follow proceedings because of the cage, but the judge insisted that headphones installed inside the dock will allow them to listen.

The cage allows the judge to control when the defendants are heard.

At one point when he was audible, Mr Morsi said: "What are you so afraid of? Are you afraid because you have no public support?" Reuters reports.

The court said it would appoint a new defence team.

An Egyptian riot policeman stands guard on the top of an armoured vehicle outside the Police Academy Security was tight outside the police academy where the trial was taking place
A pro-military Egyptian holds a poster behind barbed wires Pro-military protesters had assembled, some demanding Mr Morsi's execution
Morsi defiant

Mr Morsi was ousted by the military last July following mass street protests against his rule.

Since Mr Morsi was ousted there has been a severe crackdown on his Muslim Brotherhood group, as well as on other activists seen as hostile to the military-backed government.

The Brotherhood has been declared a terrorist organisation and authorities have punished any public show of support for it.

Other senior Brotherhood figures, including supreme guide Mohammed Badie and his deputy and former presidential candidate Khairat al-Shater, are also facing a raft of charges,

At least 1,000 people have died in clashes between security forces and pro-Morsi protesters since he was deposed, with thousands more arrested.

In this latest trial, Mr Morsi is accused of collaborating with the Palestinian movement Hamas, Lebanon's Hezbollah and Iran's Revolutionary Guards. If convicted he could receive the death penalty.

Four trials of Mohammed Morsi

  • Incitement of supporters to commit violence and murder during break-up of December 2012 protest
  • Conspiring with foreign organisations (Hamas and Hezbollah) to commit terrorist acts
  • Murder of prison officers in jailbreak during 2011 uprising against President Mubarak
  • Insulting the judiciary

Proceedings in two other trials have already begun:

  • The first opened in November on charges of inciting the killing of protesters near the presidential palace when he was in office in 2012.
  • In January another trial opened concerning his escape from prison in a jailbreak in 2011, during which police officers were killed.
  • The fourth trial will be on charges of insulting the judiciary.

Mr Morsi's supporters say he and other senior Brotherhood leaders are the victims of politically motivated prosecutions.

In his previous court appearances Mr Morsi has struck a defiant tone, refusing to recognise the legitimacy of the court and insisting that he is still the rightful president.

During that court appearance, from inside a glassed-in defendants' cage, he shouted: "I am the president of the republic. How can I be kept in a dump for weeks?"

Also on Sunday, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper reported that Lt Gen Sami Enan, former chief of staff of the armed forces, will run in the upcoming presidential elections.

Many are expecting Field Marshal Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who led the army action that deposed Mr Morsi and has since been seen as being effectively in control of the country, to announce his own presidential bid.

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