Skip to main content

Facing new charges, Egypt's Morsy taunts court from glass cage

From Sarah Sirgany and Matt Smith, CNN
February 16, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Those who fear his appearance "have no public support," Morsy declares
  • Defense lawyers object to the placement of soundproof glass where defendants stand
  • Morsy became president in 2012, but was deposed in a military coup one year later
  • His supporters say the military has returned to the authoritarian practices of Hosni Mubarak

(CNN) -- Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy on Sunday taunted court officials who placed him in a soundproof glass box during his trial on conspiracy charges, a proceeding cut short by his lawyers' objections.

"If this farce continues, leave the trial," Morsy told his lawyers through a microphone. "Those who are afraid of my appearance before the people have no public support," he added.

Morsy, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was toppled in a military coup in July and faces trial on a variety of charges -- the most recent being allegations that he spied for an unnamed foreign power.

Sunday's session marked the second time he was placed in a glass enclosure. When he was hauled into court along with nearly three dozen co-defendants, his lawyers complained the soundproof enclosure hindered their ability to communicate with their client.

"The glass dock is to humiliate the defendants," said Mohamed Selim El-Awa, his lead attorney. "This is unprecedented in the world."

El-Awa told CNN that the defendants can't hear inside the glass-enclosed dock and that presiding Judge Shaaban el-Shamy isn't the only one controlling the sound. The judge refused requests to discuss this issue in private, making it impossible for the lawyers to do their job, he said.

Clashes erupt at Egypt protests

And Ahmed Morsy, the ex-leader's son, said, "This is what the coup authorities want."

With defense lawyers refusing to participate, proceedings were adjourned until February 23. The judge threatened to appoint new lawyers, and the defense attorneys appeared divided over whether they should return.

El-Awa said the withdrawal would remain in effect until the glass barrier is removed.

"What is important is that I haven't gone against my conscience," El-Awa said.

But defense spokesman Mohamed El Damaty said that given the court's threat to appoint new attorneys, Morsy's lawyers may have to submit to the "bitter reality" and continue their defense in later sessions.

The trial is one of several that Morsy is facing amid Egypt's seesaw power struggles. The latest charges against him include spying for foreign organizations outside Egypt, committing terrorist acts inside the country, disclosing classified defense information to a foreign country and funding terrorism.

He already has been charged with inciting the killings of political opponents and organizing a 2011 jailbreak by members of his then-banned Muslim Brotherhood.

Morsy, the former head of the Brotherhood's political arm, won office in 2012. Shortly after he was elected, he resigned from the Muslim Brotherhood and its Freedom and Justice Party in an effort to show he would represent all Egyptians.

But he was ousted in a coup about a year later amid widespread protests against his rule, with opponents accusing him of pursuing an Islamist agenda and excluding other factions from the government.

Morsy and other Brotherhood leaders were rounded up after the coup and now face a variety of counts, including organizing attacks on Egyptian troops in the Sinai Peninsula and fueling "sectarian sedition with the aim of igniting civil war in Egypt."

The Brotherhood had long been suppressed during the 29-year rule of former strongman Hosni Mubarak. But it became the most powerful political force in Egypt after the popular revolt that toppled Mubarak in 2011. Supporters say the military-backed government that replaced Morsy has returned to the authoritarian practices of Mubarak.

CNN's Yousuf Basil and Holly Yan contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
Egypt
March 25, 2014 -- Updated 0026 GMT (0826 HKT)
An Egyptian court sentences at least 528 supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood to death on charges related to violent riots in the southern Egyptian city of Minya.
March 24, 2014 -- Updated 1641 GMT (0041 HKT)
Interim Egyptian President Adly Mansour sends letter to the family of jailed Al Jazeera journalist Mohamed Fahmy.
March 9, 2014 -- Updated 1630 GMT (0030 HKT)
CNN's Sara Sidner talks about stepping in for Al Jazeera reporters since they have been barred from working in Egypt.
March 15, 2014 -- Updated 1134 GMT (1934 HKT)
How are the Arab Spring nations faring? What successes can they boast -- on democracy, economic progress, stability and women's rights -- and what challenges await?
March 4, 2014 -- Updated 2357 GMT (0757 HKT)
A Cairo court has banned all activities by Hamas in Egypt, calling the Palestinian movement that runs Gaza a terrorist organization.
February 22, 2014 -- Updated 2114 GMT (0514 HKT)
Lawyers representing Muslim Brotherhood members in a jailbreak case call for the judges to be changed.
February 20, 2014 -- Updated 1005 GMT (1805 HKT)
Three Al Jazeera journalists face terrorism charges after being arrested in December. CNN's Sara Sidner reports.
February 9, 2014 -- Updated 1752 GMT (0152 HKT)
CNN's Christiane Amanpour son the Egyptian government's actions towards journalists.
February 18, 2014 -- Updated 0409 GMT (1209 HKT)
At least four people died and 14 were wounded by a blast on a tourist bus in the resort town of Taba, authorities say.
February 16, 2014 -- Updated 1610 GMT (0010 HKT)
Mohamed Morsy taunts officials who placed him in a soundproof glass box during his trial on conspiracy charges.
February 11, 2014 -- Updated 1301 GMT (2101 HKT)
An Oscar-nominated film portrays a revolution squeezed into its margins,but that's where it started, writes H.A. Hellyer.
January 22, 2014 -- Updated 0818 GMT (1618 HKT)
"Democracy" is meaningless unless the right people are entrusted with implementing it, says Aalam Wassef.
February 6, 2014 -- Updated 2130 GMT (0530 HKT)
Egypt's military quashes a newspaper report that quoted Abdel-Fatah El-Sisi as saying he would run for president.
January 26, 2014 -- Updated 0802 GMT (1602 HKT)
Muslim Brotherhood supporters (background) clash with supporters of the Egyptian government in Cairo on January 25, 2014.
At least 49 people died in violence on the third anniversary of the January 25 revolution, state media says.
January 18, 2014 -- Updated 2204 GMT (0604 HKT)
Voters have overwhelmingly approved a new constitution, a spokesman for Egypt's electoral commission says.
January 15, 2014 -- Updated 0108 GMT (0908 HKT)
Egyptians vote for the first time since the military ousted Morsy. CNN's Ian Lee reports.
January 15, 2014 -- Updated 0111 GMT (0911 HKT)
A study suggests Egyptians are far more likely to support military rule than people in many other Mideast countries.
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 2054 GMT (0454 HKT)
CNN's Becky Anderson speaks to Amre Moussa about what went into the creation of Egypt's constitutional draft.
January 14, 2014 -- Updated 1812 GMT (0212 HKT)
Egyptians have high hopes that the referendum will put an end to the bloodshed, but will Egypt be back where it was at the start of the revolution?
January 13, 2014 -- Updated 1557 GMT (2357 HKT)
International correspondents demand Egypt release three journalists they say have been detained arbitrarily for two weeks.
ADVERTISEMENT