Egypt court adjourns Morsi murder trial

2014-04-05 20:33

Cairo - A court in Egypt has adjourned the murder trial of deposed Islamist president Mohammed Morsi until Sunday, when it will hear "decisive" testimony from senior security officials.

The case is part of a relentless crackdown against Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood movement since the military ousted him on 3 July, ending a turbulent single year in office.

Morsi and 14 co-defendants are charged with involvement in the killing of opposition protesters outside a Cairo presidential palace in December 2012.

At Sunday's hearing, testimony is expected from the former head of the military's Republican Guard, the unit tasked with providing security for Egypt's presidents.

The court will also hear from three other top Republican Guard officials and from the head of Morsi's personal security detail.

"The five witnesses are decisive as they were the closest to Morsi and his aides," Ramy Ghanem, a lawyer for a civilian wounded in the clashes, told AFP.

During pre-trial questioning, the head of the Republican Guard told prosecutors that Morsi called him the night before the clashes.

He said he was ordered to disperse a sit-in by Morsi opponents near the presidential palace within an hour but had refused to do so because it could lead to casualties.

On Saturday, defence lawyers for some of the defendants slammed a technical committee report on video footage of the 5 December 2012 clashes between Morsi supporters and opponents, saying it was biased.

The defence team requested that a new independent committee review the footage.

Morsi's murder trial comes as former army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi moved closer to replacing him in next month's presidential election.

On Friday, Sisi's campaign said he had already received the thousands of signatures required from supporters to register his candidacy.

Sisi is expected to easily win the 26-27 May poll. He is seen by his backers as a saviour for ending Islamist rule after Morsi's divisive 12 months in office.

The Brotherhood and other Islamist groups accuse Sisi of staging a coup against the country's first democratically elected president, unleashing a wave of violence that has killed almost 2 000 people since July.

Morsi, who faces two other trials for espionage and militancy related charges, could face the death penalty if convicted.