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Egypt's Morsi meets legal team in prison

12 November 2013, 19:02

Cairo - Egypt's imprisoned ousted President Mohammed Morsi is meeting on Tuesday with a team of lawyers who seek to defend him in his ongoing trial on charges of inciting murder, his son said.

But the deposed leader, who wants to defend himself, has not yet agreed to let the team represent him. Rather, he wants to discuss taking legal action against others, his son said.

Morsi has been held in a secret location since his removal on 3 July, and was transferred to a high security prison in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria after the opening session of his trial on 4 November. He had so far declined legal representation.

The defence team spoke to him briefly during the trial, held in a police academy in eastern Cairo.

Even though Egypt is highly polarized and the army enjoys strong support, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has struck a consistently defiant tone, holding regular protests to oppose what they term an illegitimate coup. Morsi's trial strategy seems in line with the group's overall line of resisting the new political order at every turn.

In the opening session of his trial, his first public appearance since his ouster, Morsi called the process illegitimate, saying the panel of judges didn't have jurisdiction to try a president. He repeatedly insisted he remains the country's leader and called his trial a "cover for a military coup".

The trial as adjourned to 8 January. At the next session, Morsi is expected to tell the court whether he will accept the defence team assembled by the Muslim Brotherhood to represent the ousted president and his co-defendants.

Osama Morsi, himself a lawyer, told The Associated Press that his father still had not agreed to let attorneys represent him.

Accept defence team

"He wants to take legal actions ... against others and not to defend himself," he said before going into the meeting with his father and four other lawyers.

Lawyers on the team had told local media that they will seek to convince Morsi to accept the defence team, and that it would not undercut his challenge to the trial's legitimacy.

Morsi and 14 co-defendants - seven of whom are still at large - are 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.

Brotherhood members and supporters attacked a sit-in by the protesters, sparking clashes that left 10 people dead.

Morsi and the others are also accused of inciting Brotherhood supporters to illegally hold and abuse opponents in a makeshift detention centre outside the palace.

The 62-year-old ousted president is facing other accusations, including an ongoing investigation into his escape from prison with other Brotherhood leaders during the 2011 uprising against his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.

His detention in that case was renewed for 30 days on Monday pending investigation.

Osama Morsi said his father continues to refuse to co-operate with his interrogators.

- AP


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