Spy trial of Egypt’s Mursi postponed to Feb. 23

Defense lawyers for Mursi and the other suspects have walked out of court to protest the soundproof glass cage defendants are placed in

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Egypt’s deposed Islamist President Mohammad Mursi and 35 others on Sunday faced charges of espionage and collaborating with the Palestinian Hamas movement. The trial, however, has been postponed to Feb. 23.

The latest court case is part of a government crackdown targeting Mursi and his Islamist supporters since he was ousted by the military on July 3.

Mursi, along with others including former aides and leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been accused of launching a “terrorist” campaign inside Egypt in collaboration with Hamas and jihadists.

They are also charged with “carrying out terror attacks inside the country against state property, institutions and their employees to spread chaos.”

During the session, defense lawyers for Mursi and the other suspects walked out of court to protest the soundproof glass cage in which defendants are placed, state television reported.

It said Judge Shaaban el-Shamy ordered a recess after the lawyers left Sunday’s hearing.

The glass cage was introduced after Mursi and his co-defendants interrupted the proceedings of other court cases by talking over the judge and chanting slogans.

The cage gives the judge control over whether the defendants can be heard or not when speaking.

Mursi, who was ousted by the military after a single year of turbulent rule, is already on trial for his alleged involvement in the killing of opposition protesters in December 2012.

If found guilty, Mursi, along with other defendants, could face the death penalty.

The ousted leader is also to be tried separately for “insulting the judiciary.” The trial date has not yet been set.

During Mursi’s short-lived presidency, ties between Cairo and Hamas, a Palestinian affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood which rules the neighboring Gaza strip, flourished.

But since July, Egypt’s military-installed government has accused Hamas of backing Mursi and the Muslim Brotherhood and of carrying out terrorist attacks inside Egypt.

The army has destroyed several hundred tunnels used to ferry crucial supplies, including fuel, into the blockaded Gaza Strip.

(With AFP and AP)

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