Tuesday,18 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1248, (28 May - 3 June 2015)
Tuesday,18 September, 2018
Issue 1248, (28 May - 3 June 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Morsi in the dock again

After receiving a provisional death sentence on 16 May, Mohamed Morsi now faces trials on charges of spying and insulting judges. Gamal Essam El-Din reports

Mohamed Morsi
Mohamed Morsi
Al-Ahram Weekly

After a procedural session on Saturday, the Cairo Criminal Court postponed hearings in the latest case against Mohamed Morsi to 27 July. Morsi and 24 co-defendants face charges of insulting the judiciary.

Morsi, who insists the trial is illegal, has retained Mohamed Selim Al-Awwa, a lawyer with Islamist leanings, to defend him.

Addressing Al-Awwa in court while standing in a metal cage and wearing the blue prison uniform of a convict, Morsi said “my trial is illegitimate”.

“Egypt has been in violation of the constitution since 23 June, 2013. I reject this trial. I was not given any notice of the hearing or the charges. Nobody has been allowed to visit me in prison since 7 November, 2013. I was brought to the courtroom by force.”

Prosecutor Bassem Al-Rouby accused Morsi and his co-defendants of insulting and defaming judges between 2012 and 2013.

“Through comments made in press, television, radio interviews and social networking sites the defendants launched a campaign directing insults at the courts and spreading contempt of the judicial authorities in an attempt to strip them of their independence and prestige,” said Al-Rouby.

Morsi is accused of slandering judge Ali Al-Nimr. In a speech aired on state television on 26 June, 2013, Morsi described Al-Nimr as a “forger”. The former president claimed he would have won a seat in the 2005 parliamentary elections had Al-Nimr, who was in charge of supervising the polls in Morsi’s Sharqiya constituency, not rigged the result. In the same speech Morsi said the Court of Cassation, which heard appeals against the 2005 election results, had ruled he should be declared the winner.

On 16 May Morsi received a provisional death sentence in the Wadi Al-Natroun jailbreak case, alongside 105 co-defendants. A final sentence is expected on 2 June.

The mass death sentence, condemned by Western capitals and human rights organisations, proved embarrassing for President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi who is due to visit Germany on 3 June. Germany’s foreign minister, parliamentary speaker and ambassador to Cairo all criticised the verdict as politically motivated.

The list of defendants in the anti-judicial defamation case includes opposition activists from across the political spectrum. In the dock alongside leading Muslim Brotherhood officials Saad Al-Katatni and Mohamed Al-Beltagui are former judge and MP Mahmoud Al-Khodeiri, Wafdist lawyer and former MP Mahmoud Al-Sakka, Al-Wasat Party chief Essam Sultan and Montasser Al-Zayat.

The list also includes Nasserist lawyers Mohamed Monib and Amir Salem, Nasserist journalist Abdel-Halim Qandil, anti-Brotherhood businessman Hamdi Al-Fakharani, liberal activists Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Mustafa Al-Naggar, Noureddin Hafez and Ahmed Hassan, and political scientist Amr Hamzawy. Tewfik Okasha, the serial controversialist television anchor known for his tirades against the 2011 uprising, is also in the dock.

Several defendants are being tried in absentia. They include Al-Gamaa Al-Islamiya official Assem Abdel-Maged, Islamist firebrand cleric Wagdi Ghoneim, former minister Mohamed Mahsoub, poet Abdel-Rahman Al-Qaradawi and salafist lawyer Mamdouh Ismail.

Shawki Al-Sayed, a leading lawyer and former member of the Shura Council, says “the defamation trial reflects the deep enmity between the Muslim Brotherhood and judiciary.”

“During their year of rule Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood entered into a high profile confrontation with judges. They laid siege to the headquarters of the Supreme Court, appointed a prosecutor-general loyal to the group and attempted to force hundreds of judges into retirement.”

“Morsi and his allies were desperate to Brotherhoodise the judiciary.”

Hours after Morsi received his provisional death sentence on 16 May three judges were ambushed and killed on their way from Ismailia to Al-Arish in North Sinai. Government officials immediately accused the Muslim Brotherhood of responsibility for the attack.

The group, says Al-Sayed, has a long history of attacks against judges, beginning in March 1948 when judge Ahmed Al-Khazindar was assassinated for sentencing two Brotherhood officials to death.

Morsi also faces trial on charges of spying for the oil rich state of Qatar. Morsi is accused of passing classified documents on Egypt’s military capabilities to Qatar exploiting during his year in office. If convicted Morsi could face a second death sentence.

On 21 April Morsi was sentenced to 20 years in prison for inciting violence that led to the death of ten citizens during clashes outside the Al-Ittihadiya presidential palace in December, 2012.

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