- (Photo: Reuters/Egyptian Presidency/Handout)
Former Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi has insisted he is still the country's legitimate leader at the start of his trial on Monday, which has now been adjourned until Jan. 8, following several interruptions.
"This is a military coup whose leaders must be put on trial in accordance with the constitution," Morsi declared before the court, according to The Associated Press.
"I am the president of the republic and I am here against my will. What is happening here is providing cover for the military coup." The 14 other Muslim Brotherhood co-defendants reportedly chanted "down, down with military coup."
Morsi had been held at an undisclosed location for four months following the public uprising against him and the Brotherhood in July, when the Egyptian military declared that he is no longer president, and an interim government took over. Millions of Egyptians had taken to the streets the week prior, demanding for his resignation a year into his presidency, which they said was full of failed promises and expectations.
The former leader is now facing charges of inciting the violence that led to the deaths of 10 protesters who marched against him at a previous demonstration in December outside the presidential place. If convicted, Morsi and the 14 co-defendants could face the death penalty.
Following Morsi's ousting, Islamic supporters backed by the Brotherhood rallied against the government and demanded he be reinstated, which sparked clashes with police and deadly riots that threatened to throw the country into chaos.
The minority Christian population in Egypt was also greatly affected by the proceedings, as Islamic extremists burned down churches, schools and Christian bookstores, blaming followers of Christ for backing the protests that led to Morsi's ousting.
Monday's trial was plagued by problems from the start, and was delayed by nearly two hours after Morsi refused to wear a prison uniform and instead appeared in a suit, AP noted. Judge Ahmed Sabry Youssef eventually adjourned the hearing until Jan. 8 to allow lawyers time to review documents, following a number of disruptions.
State TV initially reported Morsi was then transferred to the main prison in Cairo along with the other co-defendants, though later reports said he was being taken to a prison in the desert near the city of Alexandria.
Parallels have been drawn between Morsi's trial and the trial of his predecessor, Hosni Mubarak, who was brought down in another Egyptian uprising in 2011.
"Even the most powerful can sort of fall from grace. But of course the question is how they fall from grace and who is putting these leaders on trial and I think, you know, a key player in this is the military," said Professor Christian Donath of the American University in Cairo, according to Voice of America.