Egypt holds its breath as Morsy’s trial begins today
Amid threat of a fresh violence, authorities switched the venue for the first day of the trial of former Islamist president Mohamed Morsy, a last-minute change made after the Muslim Brotherhood called for mass demonstrations at the original location.
Morsy’s trial, now to be held at the Police Academy in the east of the capital on Monday, could lead to another round of bloodshed as his supporters look likely to face an emboldened security apparatus that has boosted its forces for the hearing.
If found guilty, Morsy and his co-defendants, could face lifetime imprisonment or death penalty.
Morsy has been held in undisclosed location and received only rare visits and telephone calls since his July 3 ouster in a popularly backed military coup.
The trial will be his first public appearance since then, possibly enflaming the already tense political atmosphere.
The heavily-fortified trial venue has already been transformed into a courthouse for the trial of another former president, Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled in a 2011 uprising.
The Muslim Brotherhood described the trial as an attempt by the current regime to put Morsy “behind bars, and fill Egypt with corruption, looting and authoritarianism.”
The National Alliance to Support Legitimacy (NASL), a pro-Morsy coalition backed by the Muslim Brotherhood, described the trial as a “farce”, decrying what they call “illegal” measures against the country’s first freely elected president.
Morsy’s supporters accuse the army of staging a ‘coup’ against the elected president and reversing the democratic gains of the 2011 uprising that toppled long-time autocrat Mubarak.
The military says it was merely responding to the peoples’ will after millions took to the streets to protest Morsy’s one-year divisive rule.
“What is happening now is a flagrant breach of all standards, laws and norms,” a NASL statement said. It also lambasted the “disgraceful performance of the judiciary, which has become a tool in the hands of the military… used in a political conflict to crush rights and laws“.
The Egyptian Cabinet announced on Sunday that Monday will be a normal working day for all governmental institutions, schools and universities.
Egypt’s Education Minister Mahmoud Abu-Nasr said state-owned schools won’t be suspended. However, some private schools and universities have decided to suspend classes.
Egypt’s railway authority announced a state of emergency on Friday in anticipation of escalating Muslim Brotherhood protests ahead of the trial.
Railway operations resumed only recently after an almost two-month suspension since the violent dispersal of pro-Morsy sit-ins in Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adawiya and Giza’s Nahda Square on 14 August, which left hundreds dead and thousands injured.
Railway authority head Hussein Zakaria said that a special task force has been formed to combat protests and violence inside railway stations. Security has also been increased in trains and stations. However, train schedules will remain as normal, Zakaria added.
The Ministry of Interior said it will stand against any assaults, abiding by “legal procedures regulating the use of firearms”.
The Brotherhood has plans that aim to “spread chaos, obstruct state facilities and citizens’ interests and hold up traffic,” the ministry statement added.
The statement added that the ministry is “accurately monitoring” the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood.