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Morsi faces trial in Egypt in test of democracy

Updated: 2013-11-04 15:18
( Agencies)

Morsi faces trial in Egypt in test of democracy

Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood and ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi take part in a protest against the military and interior ministry in the southern suburb of Maadi, on the outskirts of Cairo, Nov 1, 2013. [Photo/Agencies]

CAIRO -- Deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood arrived at a Cairo police academy on Monday to face trial on charges of inciting violence, state media reported.

It is the second time in just over two years that an ousted president has been in court in Egypt, a pivotal Arab nation some fear is sliding back into autocratic rule.

The trial raises fears of deepening instability in the region's most populous country.

The Muslim Brotherhood has said it will defy a security crackdown and press on with street protests to pressure the army, which toppled Morsi on July 3, to reinstate him.

A popular uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak in 2011 raised hopes that Egypt would embrace democracy and eventually enjoy economic prosperity.

Instead, the power struggle between the Brotherhood and the army-backed government has created more uncertainty.

The trial of Morsi and 14 other Islamists is likely to be the next flashpoint in their confrontation.

They face charges of inciting violence relating to the deaths of about a dozen people in clashes outside the presidential palace in December after Morsi enraged his opponents with a decree expanding his powers.

State news agency MENA said Morsi had travelled to court by helicopter. The trial is taking place at the same Cairo police academy where Mubarak also faces trial.

The defendants could face a life sentence or death penalty if found guilty.

The Brotherhood had won every election since Mubarak's fall and eventually propelled Morsi into power.

But millions of Egyptians who grew disillusioned with Morsi's troubled one-year rule took to the streets this summer to demand his resignation.

The army, saying it was responding to the will of the people, deposed him and announced a political roadmap it said would lead to free and fair elections.

But the promises have not reassured Egypt's Western allies, who had hoped the stranglehold of military men would be broken.

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