The second court appearance for ousted President Mohammed Morsi was very different from his first: He wore a white prison uniform Tuesday instead of a trim dark suit. And when the Islamist leader wanted to speak, a judge controlled his microphone in the soundproof glass cell.
The session was carefully managed by authorities, with state media showing only edited excerpts, not a planned live feed, as the military-backed interim government and allied media sought to control the narrative of Egypt’s political turmoil following the Arab Spring.
An agitated Morsi paced in the courtroom cage, separated from other defendants, and raised his hands as he angrily questioned why he was in court. “Who are you? Tell me!” he shouted at the presiding judge.
Judge Shabaan el-Shami responded: “I am the head of Egypt’s criminal court!”
After five hours, the court session was adjourned until Feb. 22.
The 62-year-old former president is on trial with leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, and terrorists from Hamas and Lebanon’s Hizbullah. They are charged in connection with prison breaks that freed 20,000 inmates during the 18-day uprising against Morsi’s predecessor, Hosni Mubarak.
Three years ago, on Jan. 28, 2011, protesters battled police in Cairo with stones and firebombs, and burned down the ruling party headquarters. Crowds chased away the much-reviled police forces, torched their vehicles and burned some of their stations — forcing some police to withdraw or join the demonstrators, only to be replaced by the military.
To mark Tuesday’s anniversary, Morsi supporters briefly clashed with police in central Cairo. Separately, gunmen also killed an aide to the interior minister in a drive-by shooting outside Cairo, as well as a policeman guarding a church in a southern section of the capital. Security forces were deployed, erecting checkpoints as they braced for more trouble, but no major violence was reported.