The trial of the Brotherhood leaders is one in a wave of prosecutions Egypt’s military.
CAIRO (AP) — The leader of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood appeared in court Monday for the first time since his arrest four months ago, facing charges of inciting murder during protests this summer.
Amid tight security, Badie and 14 other senior leaders of the group appeared in the defendants’ cage for the opening of a trial focusing on July protests following the ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. At least five people were killed in those protests, including a former army officer.
The hearing was held inside the prison complex where Badie has been held, in a police academy transformed into a courtroom. Officials had cited security concerns for failing to transport Badie to a previous, separate trial, also over accusations of inciting violence at earlier protests.
Arriving in the courtroom, Badie first prayed for those “who lost their lives for Egypt’s sake.” His son was among those killed during security crackdowns on pro-Morsi protests in August that left hundreds killed.
The trial of the Brotherhood leaders is one in a wave of prosecutions Egypt’s military-backed interim government is carrying out as part of a crackdown on the group since the popularly backed July 3 coup against Morsi, himself of the Brotherhood.
The authorities are seeking through the prosecutions to show that the Brotherhood fueled violence during Morsi’s one-year presidency and after the coup — and to give legal justification for imprisoning its leaders.
Morsi himself is on trial for inciting murder. His trial opened last month and is to resume in January.
Addressing the court room, Badie denied his group was behind any violence.
“Me and my group are not offenders or defendants. We are victims in the face of those that killed thousands of citizens and peaceful protesters,” he said according to Egypt’s state news agency.
Badie said dozens of his group’s offices were torched during the protests against Morsi. “My son was killed, my home was torched and shot at, and despite all that there is not a single investigation into this,” he also told the court.
The defendants in the cage, who included leading Brotherhood members such as Mohammed el-Beltagy and Essam el-Erian, chanted: “Down with military rule,” according to the news agency.
The defendants kept interrupting the procedures of the trial, denouncing the charges against them as brought by authorities they don’t recognize. El-Beltagy asked the panel of judges to recluse themselves because “they are sitting in the wrong place” and trying the wrong people, he said.
The judge adjourned the trial to Feb. 11.