The Cairo Appeals Court on Monday postponed until 9 April the decision to have judges recuse themselves in two cases for senior Muslim Brotherhood members.
The defence team for Mohamed Al-Beltagy and Safwat Hegazy – facing trial for escaping from prison and espionage – requested that the judges in the case step down on accusations of bias. The defendants were kept in a soundproof glass case in the courtroom in previous hearings preventing verbal access to their attorneys, which the defence said compromised the court’s neutrality.
Deposed president Mohamed Morsi and many other Brotherhood leaders are co-defendants in both trials, but no decision has yet been announced in their cases.
The court argued that the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood members, including Morsi, were taking advantage of communication with their attorneys to spread political messages, reported Reuters-operated news site Aswat Masraya.
The defendants face espionage charges from accusations that they organised for members of Islamist groups to enter Sinai to receive military and media training.
The prosecutor lists the Brotherhood members as accomplices in “a plot” organised with the aid of several foreign organisations, including: the Islamic resistance movement of Hamas, which it named “the military arm of the Muslim Brotherhood”; Hezbollah in Lebanon, which it said “has strong ties with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps”; and other extremist jihadist groups inside and outside the country.
Many prominent Muslim Brotherhood leaders are also facing charges 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.
Morsi is also the defendant in two other trials on charges of inciting the killing of protesters in December 2012, and insulting the judiciary.