Cairo - Egypt is bracing for deposed president Mohammed Morsi
to go on trial on Monday, when he is expected to make his first public
appearance since the military ousted him in July.
Morsi's supporters, hammered by a bloody and far-reaching
police campaign since the Islamist president's overthrow and arrest, are
determined not to allow the day to pass quietly.
"This is not just a trial of an elected president, it's
a trial of the people's will," said Imam Yousef, a protest leader in the
pro-Morsi Anti-Coup Alliance.
The coalition, led by Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, has called
for peaceful protests as the trial convenes at a police academy adjacent to
Cairo's Tora prison, where much of the Brotherhood's leadership is jailed.
Police say they are ready to deal with any outbreak of
"There is a security plan to secure the court and
[Morsi's] transport to the court room," a police general told AFP.
The security official said 20 000 policemen will be deployed
on full alert in Cairo.
With more than 1 000 killed since Morsi's overthrow, and
thousands of Islamists arrested, hopes for a political settlement between the
Islamists and the army-installed government already are slim.
Morsi is charged alongside 14 others with inciting the
murder of protesters outside his palace in December 2012.
He had been held at a Cairo military installation but was
moved after his supporters clashed with soldiers outside the building on July 8
and more than 50 people were killed.
The military will bring him from the secret location to the
court in a helicopter, a security official said.
Morsi, according to relatives and the few officials who were
given access to him, remains defiant.
Unlike his predecessor Hosni Mubarak, also on trial facing
similar charges, he will not co-operate with the court, said the Anti-Coup
The deposed president "does not recognise the authority
of the court", it said.
His lawyers will attend the hearing only as observers, it
Morsi's position appears unchanged since the night of his
ouster, on which he released a defiant video challenging the military.
Later in July, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton was
allowed to speak with Morsi.
Officials briefed on the visit said Morsi had access to two
state-owned newspapers and television, was in high spirits and utterly defiant.
"He remains stuck in June 30," said one official,
referring to the day the military gave him a 48-hour ultimatum to yield to
opposition demands to resign after millions took to the streets demanding he do
Ashton had personally asked interim president Adly Mansour
and military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to free Morsi and other Islamist
An array of opposition groups
Western diplomats have now dropped such demands, government
officials and Islamists who met with the diplomats said.
Egypt's judiciary, which mostly loathed Morsi and repeatedly
clashed with him during his one-year presidency, bristles at any political
intervention and will likely see the trial through.
The charges against Morsi could lead to the death penalty or
life in prison.
They stem from a turning point in his presidency, when thousands
camped outside his palace protesting against a decree that placed his decisions
beyond judicial review.
Accusing police of failing to protect the president, the
Muslim Brotherhood called on supporters to confront the protesters. At least
seven were killed in the clashes
The violence galvanised an array of opposition groups that
eventually played a role in the president's ouster.
Wael Haddara, a former Morsi aide, accused the
military-appointed government of staging a sham trial.
"I think the world will see this clearly for what it
is, it's a kangaroo court," Haddara, who is now in Canada, told AFP.
The appearance of the stocky, bespectacled former
engineering professor in the defendants' cage will inspire his supporters,
"The very sight will rally a segment of Egyptian
His co-defendants include senior Brotherhood officials and