Former President Morsi Makes First Public Appearance Since Coup

In his first public appearance since July 3, 2013 when he gave a “rambling televised speech” before being officially removed from the presidency, former President Muhammad Morsi entered the caged dock of the court at the start of the long-awaited trial where he and 14 other defendants were charged with “inciting the killing of protesters who massed outside the presidential palace in December 2012 and demanded that he call off a referendum on a new Islamist-drafted constitution.” Seven of the defendants were still at-large at the time of the trial; those present chanted: “Down with military rule” from the cage.

Morsi immediately began speaking upon his arrival in the cage, even before Judge Ahmed Sabry Youssef gave him the floor. He addressed the court loudly, accusing the judiciary of acting as a “cover for the military coup.” Morsi also reiterated his supposed legitimacy, to raucous response from his co-defendants, lawyers, and journalists in the building. The trial proceeded in a similar tone, and was twice adjourned due to pandemonium and outbursts.

Judge Youssef eventually ended the session because of constant interruptions, and Morsi was taken to the Bourg Al-Arab prison to await the next session on January 8, 2014. Outside the police academy, where the trial was held, several hundred Morsi supporters gathered to “chant slogans against General Abdel-Fattah El Sisi, the military chief who led the coup.” Police used tear gas and fired in the air to disperse clashes across Cairo. Despite increased security measures in light of the trial, eight people were injured and 53 members of the Muslim Brotherhood were arrested in nationwide demonstrations by the end of the day.