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Morsi’s lawyers protest use of soundproof glass cage

Mohamed Morsi and his codefendants complained that they could not hear the court proceedings.Mohammed al-Law/Associated Press

CAIRO — Lawyers for Egypt’s ousted president and his codefendants walked out of court on Sunday to protest the soundproof glass cage in which defendants are held during proceedings, state TV reported.

It said judge Shaaban el-Shamy ordered a recess after the lawyers left the hearing, the first in a case in which Mohamed Morsi and 35 others are facing charges of conspiring with foreign groups and undermining national security.

Shamy, who later ordered the trial adjourned until Feb. 23, was quoted by the private CBC TV network as telling the lawyers that the trial would proceed without them if necessary.


It also reported that Morsi shouted at the start of the trial that he could not hear the proceedings.

Shamy sent technicians to inspect the cage to verify Morsi’s assertion, CBC said. The judge then ordered the speaker volume raised, but the defense lawyers remained unsatisfied and walked out.

The cage was introduced after Morsi and his codefendants interrupted the proceedings of other court cases by talking over the judge and chanting slogans. The cage is fitted to give the judge sole control over whether the defendants can be heardwhen speaking.

Morsi was ousted by the military after millions-strong protests demanded he step down after just one year in power. He and leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood now face a multitude of trials on a range of charges, some of which carry the death penalty.

Egypt has been in almost continual unrest since Morsi’s ouster. His supporters have been holding near-daily protests demanding his reinstatement, met by a fierce security crackdown that has led to hundreds of people killed and thousands of Brotherhood members arrested.

Meanwhile, a wave of retaliatory attacks by suspected Sinai-based militants and Morsi supporters has targeted security forces.

Throughout, the new government has depicted the Brotherhood as a violent movement and declared it a terrorist group.


The charges involved in Sunday’s trial accuse the Brotherhood of being enmeshed with terrorists since 2005 in deals aimed at winning and holding on to power, of plotting the collapse of police and prison breaks during the 2011 uprising that forced autocrat Hosni Mubarak from power, and of organizing the Sinai militant backlash.

‘‘The biggest case of conspiracy in Egypt’s history goes to the criminal court,’’ proclaimed the title of a prosecution announcement made public in December.

After his ouster, Morsi spent four months in a secret military detention before he appeared in court to face incitement to murder charges in November. In the latest trial, Morsi’s codefendants include the top leader of the Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie, and Badie’s two powerful deputies, Khairat el-Shater and Mahmoud Ezzat.

Ezzat and around 17 of the defendants in the case are on the run and are being tried in absentia.

They also include members of the Gaza-based Palestinian militant group Hamas.

In their statement, the prosecutors asserted that Morsi and 35 others created an international terrorist network linking jihadi militant groups in the region along with Hamas, Lebanon’s Hezbollah, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, exchanging and revealing state secrets, sponsoring terrorism, and carrying out combat training.