CAIRO — The murder trial of deposed Egyptian leader Mohammed Morsi is due to resume in Cairo on Saturday, after he insisted at a separate hearing that he was still the legitimate president.
His trial is seen as a test for Egypt’s military-installed authorities, who have come under fire for a heavy-handed crackdown on his supporters after he was forced out by the army last July.
An Islamist coalition backing the deposed leader called for nationwide protests Saturday in a statement to “support the legitimate elected president.”
Saturday’s hearing at a heavily guarded police academy is the third session in the trial, in which Morsi and 14 others are accused of inciting the killing of opposition protesters in December 2012 outside the presidential palace.
The previous session of the trial had been adjourned over “weather conditions” that prevented Morsi’s transport to court from prison.
Morsi is facing four separate trials, and at the first hearing of another trial on January 28 the defiant Islamist insisted he was still the legitimate president of Egypt.
In that trial, Morsi and 130 other co-defendants face charges of breaking out of prison during the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak three-decade rule.
Morsi, whose Muslim Brotherhood won a series of polls after Mubarak’s ouster and who became Egypt’s first freely elected leader in June 2012, was ousted a year later by the army after massive protests against him.
Amnesty International says that since Morsi’s overthrow on July 3 at least 1,400 people have been killed in clashes with security forces and his opponents.
Months of bloodshed has reduced chances of political reconciliation in the Arab world’s most populous nation as it prepares for a presidential vote to be held by mid-April.
The vote is expected to see Egypt’s army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who ousted Morsi, run for the presidency.
Morsi also faces trials on charges of espionage in collaboration with the Palestinian Hamas movement, and insulting the judiciary. The spying trial will start on February 16, while no date has yet been set for the other trial.
Morsi’s single year in power was marred by political turmoil, deadly clashes and a crippling economic crisis.
In December 2012, members of the Muslim Brotherhood attacked opposition protesters camped outside the presidential palace in protest at a decree by Morsi to grant himself extra-judicial powers.
At least seven people were killed in the clashes, and dozens of opposition protesters were detained and beaten by Morsi’s supporters.
The incident was a turning point in Morsi’s presidency, galvanising a disparate opposition that eventually organised the mass protests in June 2013.
Morsi’s defence says there is no proof he incited the clashes, and that most of those killed in the violence were members of the now banned Muslim Brotherhood.