Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is on trial today for the second time since being ousted, as a court decides whether he is guilty of an organized attempt to destabilize the country during a 2011 jailbreak.
Morsi is being held in a soundproof glass cage in the courtroom during the trial (which was briefly televised before being pulled off the air) because he had interrupted the court during his previous trial back in november. Morsi is joined by 19 defendants in court, while another 110 accused — including members of the militant groups Hamas and Hezbollah — are being tried in absentia.
Human rights groups say the 2011 incident, in which 20,000 inmates fled an Egyptian jail following an attack that freed Morsi and his supporters, but left some police officers dead, should be investigated. Others argue, convincingly, that the trial is only being held now — three years after the event — to further weaken Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, which the interim government labeled a terrorist group in December.
Yesterday, Egypt's interim court gave Army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi the go ahead to run for president. The general was instrumental in removing Morsi from his post in July of last year, and many see his ascent to the presidency as inevitable, given the military's hold on the country.
In-court reporters said Morsi was agitated at the trial, asserting himself as Egypt's true president and questioning authorities when a court-controlled microphone carried his voice into the main room. Per CBS:
Egypt's toppled President Mohammed Morsi appeared at a new trial Tuesday wearing a white prison uniform in soundproof glass-encased metal cage, pacing and shouting angrily at the judge in apparent disbelief: "Who are you? Tell me!" In a half hour of recorded footage aired on state television, Morsi protested being in a cage for his trial on charges related to prison breaks in 2011, yelling: "Do you know where I am?"
Since he was removed from office, Morsi has only appeared in public during these trials. He will face two more, and could be put to death if found guilty of some of the charges.
The trial takes place as the Islamist insurgency grows stronger in Egypt, plaguing citizens in Cairo and throughout the country and around the three-year anniversary of the coup that overthrew Morsi's predecessor, former president Hosni Mubarak. Elections for a new president are supposed to be held by April. If the suspiciously high rate of approval for the new Egyptian constitution is any indication, the voting is unlikely to be as democratic as the interim government promises.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.