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Morsi's lawyers walk out of espionage trial

By Agencies in Cairo, Egypt | China Daily | Updated: 2014-02-17 07:56

The trial of deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi was adjourned on Sunday after his lawyers walked out of the courtroom in protest at a soundproof cage in which he and other defendants were being held.

The court case involves charges of espionage and terrorism brought against Morsi by the current military-backed government, and is the third trial to be brought against the former president.

It is part of a government crackdown targeting Morsi and his Islamist supporters since he was ousted by the military on July 3.

Morsi and 35 others, including former aides and leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood, were accused "of spying for the international organization of the Muslim Brotherhood, its military wing and the (Palestinian) Hamas movement".

They are also charged with "carrying out terror attacks inside the country against state property, institutions and their employees to spread chaos".

If found guilty, the defendants could face the death penalty.

Morsi, who was ousted by the military after a single year of turbulent rule, is already on trial for his alleged involvement in the killing of opposition protesters in December 2012.

Morsi is being tried separately on charges linked to a jailbreak during the 2011 uprising that toppled then-president Hosni Mubarak. He faces these charges along with 130 others, including dozens of members of Hamas and Lebanon's Shiite militant movement Hezbollah.

The ousted leader is also to be tried for "insulting the judiciary". A date for that trial has yet to be set.

During Morsi's short-lived presidency, ties between Cairo and Hamas, a Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood that rules the neighboring Gaza Strip, had flourished.

But since July, Egypt's military-installed government has accused Hamas of backing Morsi and his Brotherhood and carrying out terrorist attacks inside Egypt.

The army has destroyed several hundred tunnels used to ferry crucial supplies, including fuel, into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

Earlier on Friday, at least two people were killed during clashes between supporters of Morsi and security forces, who were joined by some local residents, official MENA News Agency reported.

A 40-year-old man was killed in the coastal province of Damietta during violent confrontations between Morsi loyalists and local residents who rejected their anti-military slogans.

The other person killed was a 12-year-old boy in upper Egypt's Minya governorate who was killed in clashes between the police and protesters.

Anti-government protests across the country on Friday were called by a pro-Morsi alliance led by the Muslim Brotherhood, to mark the six-month anniversary of the army's heavy-handed operation to disperse two major pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo and Giza. The operation left about 1,000 protesters killed and thousands arrested.

Since Morsi was removed by the military in July, his supporters have been holding marches nationwide, calling his ouster as "a military coup", and urging his reinstatement.

Egypt's interim leadership has recently blacklisted the Muslim Brotherhood as "a terrorist organization" and is currently implementing a roadmap that includes the recently approved constitution and upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections.

AFP - Xinhua

 Morsi's lawyers walk out of espionage trial

A pro-military government protester kisses a riot policeman standing guard outside the Police Academy where a hearing in the espionage trial of Egypt's ousted Islamist president, Mohammed Morsi, was supposed to open on Sunday in Cairo. Khaled Desouki / Agence France-Presse

(China Daily 02/17/2014 page11)

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