The trial of deposed president Mohamed Morsi and several leading Muslim Brotherhood members for escaping from prison in 2011 has been suspended after Morsi’s defence team requested the recusal of judge in the case.
A brief issued to the court by Morsi’s attorneys accused the court of bias, according to Aswat Masreya, a news site operated by Reuters. In the courtroom Morsi has been held in a soundproof glass box unable to verbally communicate with his defence, which they described as a “breach of rights” and an indication that the court lacks neutrality.
Originally set to begin on 28 January, the trial has faced numerous delays. The court is slated to resume on 1 March to decide on the defence’s request for recusal.
Monday was the third time Morsi has appeared in court in as many days, and he has an additional court appearance scheduled for Thursday.
In court on Saturday, Morsi urged his supporters to press on with their “peaceful revolution”, according to AFP, contradicting earlier reports in the Egyptian press that Morsi had called continued protests futile.
Morsi is facing trial along with 130 other defendants, including many prominent Muslim Brotherhood leaders, for escaping from Wadi El-Natrun Prison on 28 January 2011, during the opening days of the 25 January Revolution. The charges relating to the prison break include damaging and setting fire to prison buildings, murder, attempted murder, and looting prison weapons depots.
The indicted are also accused of freeing “dangerous criminals” including members of Hezbollah, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood and jihadists, reported state-run Ahram.
According to the prosecutions’ investigations, the prison break occurred when 800 foreigners affiliated with Hamas and Hezbollah infiltrated Egypt through tunnels with heavy armaments, RPGs and mortars, which they used against police and governmental installations in the eastern border area and killed several policemen.
They later moved in three groups to attack Wadi El-Natrun Prison in Beheira Governorate and Abou Zaabal and Al-Marg prisons in Cairo, according to the prosecution, which they successfully broke into, killed over 50 policemen and prisoners, and freed their fellow members and 20,000 prisoners. They also vandalised and stole police equipment, cars and arms and kidnapped four policemen.
Morsi is also the co-defendant in three other trials: inciting the killing of protesters during deadly clashes outside the presidential palace in December 2012, insulting the judiciary, and for espionage for working with foreign Islamist groups to create chaos in Egypt.
The ousted leader and his Muslim Brotherhood co-defendants appeared in court on Sunday in the espionage case, but the trial was moved to 27 February. The defendants pleaded not guilty.
Morsi has been in custody since being ousted by the military on 3 July. Until his first appearance in court on 4 November, his place of detention was unknown.