Morsi challenges validity of his trial in Cairo

Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi and 21 other defendants attend a court session behind a cage at the Cairo Police Academy in Cairo, Egypt on August 06, 2017 [Mostafa El-Shemy / Anadolu Agency]

Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi and 21 other defendants attend a court session behind a cage at the Cairo Police Academy in Cairo, Egypt on August 06, 2017

Egypt’s ousted President Mohamed Morsi, the first to be democratically-elected, reiterated on Sunday that his trial in the ordinary courts has no legal validity, because he is still president and, as such, should be held accountable according to the constitution. Morsi was ousted by a military coup in 2013 by his then Defence Minister, Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

He made his comments in the Cairo Criminal Court, where his first retrial hearings are being held. Along with 21 other defendants, he is accused of “communicating with Hamas”.

“With all respect,” explained Morsi, “the court is not competent to charge me.” According to a report by Anadolu, the head of the defence committee, Abdel Moneim Abdel Maqsoud, explained that the deposed president is holding to the fact that the jurisdiction of the court is not commensurate with his position as a president. “That, in fact, there is a certain system stipulated by the constitution for a trial of the president.”

This was a reference to Article 152 of the 2012 constitution, which is reiterated in the 2014 constitution. It stipulates that “the President of the Republic shall be tried by a special court presided by the head of the Supreme Judicial Council (officially in charge of the management of the Judges’ affairs), the Senior representatives of the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court (the highest judicial commission in Egypt which is specialized in the constitutionality of the laws and their adherence to the articles of the Constitution) and the Council of State (a judicial body responsible for settling administrative disputes between individuals and the governing bodies of the State), in addition to the oldest two heads of the courts of appeal. The Attorney General is the prosecutor, and if one of the judges is not able to attend he will be replaced by whoever follows him in seniority.”

Read: Remembering Egypt’s bloody military coup

The “communication with Hamas” case dates back to 18 December, 2013, when former Egyptian Attorney-General Hisham Barakat ordered that Morsi and 35 others be put on trial. The charges included “committing crimes through the communication with foreign organisations and groups outside the country, such as the Palestinian Hamas movement, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, in order to prepare for terrorist operations inside Egyptian territory.” The defendants deny all the charges and regard them as politically motivated.

The Cairo Criminal Court began hearing the case on 16 February, 2014, issuing verdicts on 16 June, the following year. Morsi was sentenced to 25 years in prison, as was Muhammad Badi, leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, Saad Al-Katatni, a former president of the parliament and 14 other senior officials in the group.

The same court sentenced 16 others to death, including the deputy leader of the Brotherhood, Khairat Al-Shater, Mohamed Beltagy and Ahmad Abd Al-Aaty. Two others were sent to prison for seven years.

#SisiEra

The Court of Cassation, Egypt’s highest court of appeal, accepted Morsi’s appeal against the sentence, and decided on a retrial. Thirteen defendants are fugitives and are not entitled to appeal against the sentences.

(Source / 07.08.2017)

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