Defiantly declaring "I am Egypt's legitimate president," Mohammed Morsi appeared in public for the first time in months today, as his trial for inciting riots began, then was soon halted. The court opened the proceedings against the deposed president on Monday morning, but later adjourned until January 8. Morsi, who was removed from office in a military coup back in July, is charged with inciting the death of anti-government protesters when he was still in office last year.
Morsi has been detained in an unknown location ever since the military uprising this summer, and was flown by helicopter to the Egyptian police academy where the trial will be held. His fellow defendants were brought in by car. It was the first time most of his supporters had seen him since being arrested by military authorities after being removed from office.
The former president refused to put on the standard white prison uniform normally required of defendants, and joined others in chanting "illegal" from the defendant's cage inside the courtroom. When given a chance to speak, he declared, "I am Dr. Mohammed Morsi, the president of the republic. I am Egypt's legitimate president. I refuse to be tried by this court." Morsi, who could face the death penalty if convicted, has refused to even accept a government lawyer, believing that doing so would mean that he recognizes the authority of the court. Instead, he insists the proceeding is a farce and he is being held against his will.
Still image from recorded video shows Morsi in cage during his trial earlier today: pic.twitter.com/Z2NZJonnUW— Mosa'ab Elshamy (@mosaaberizing) November 4, 2013
Supporters from Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood party gathered in droves outside the courtroom to protest what they consider to be a show trial. There were some clashes with police, but the level of violence was far below most previous conflicts between Morsi's Islamists supporters and opponents who supported the military overthrow.