The Cairo Criminal Court ended the hearing of 132 defendants, including former President Mohamed Morsi, accused of prison escapes, local media reported. According to the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm, members of Morsi’s defense team requested to talk with him following the hearing.
Morsi arrived in the early hours of Tuesday to the headquarters of the Police Academy, where his prison escape trial is being held, the privately owned Al-Masry Al-Youm daily reported.
The case includes 132 defendants, some of whom reportedly belong to the Palestinian Hamas group and the Lebanese Hezbollah group, as well as other Muslim Brotherhood members. They are accused of storming 11 prisons, attacking police stations, as well as of kidnapping and killing policemen around the January 25 revolution.
Security measures were deployed around the academy ahead of Morsi’s arrival by helicopter. According to the state-run Al-Ahram, military supporters congregated around the gates of the Police Academy to chant against Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, while supporters of the Brotherhood were absent from the scene. A security source told Al-Masry Al-Youm that they had to resort to camouflage while transferring Morsi to the courtroom for fear of attacks throughout the way. Anti-Brotherhood protesters reportedly attempted to prevent Morsi’s lawyers from reaching the courtroom.
The privately owned Al-Shorouk reported that security has circumvented several terrorist attacks planned today in parallel with the trial, which is also set on the anniversary of Egypt’s “Friday of Anger,” when masses protested in 2011 against the Hosni Mubarak regime and dozens of police stations were burnt.
According to Al-Shorouk, members of Morsi’s defense team said that the president is now recognizing his trial and would not resort to previous statements made at other hearings, whereby he maintained that he is the legitimate president of the country and that he refuses to acknowledge the trial altogether.
However, once in his glass dock, Morsi chanted “down with military rule” and “illegitimate.”
During the hearing, Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood supreme guide and one of the defendants, reportedly refused to respond to the judges’ questions.
The hearing was reportedly chaotic, with defendants apparently not being able to hear the judges, while the judges accused them of pretending not to hear.
Al-Ahram reported Mohamed al-Damaty, head of the defense committee, as saying that the chaos was mostly caused by their inability to speak to their clients in two months.
Meanwhile, the Freedom and Justice website, a Muslim Brotherhood mouthpiece, said that Osama Morsi, Morsi’s son, was not allowed to access the courtroom. Morsi’s son said he is one of the lawyers partaking in the defense team of his father. He added that the glass dock was built to prevent Morsi’s voice from being heard, since parts of the trials are aired on television.