The runner-up in Egypt's presidential election, Ayman Nour, has asked for the judges in his trial to be replaced, complaining they were conducting the proceedings in a way that humiliated him.
"Prison was better than this trial," Nour told the panel of three judges in the Cairo court on Monday where he is standing trial with five other defendants on charges of forging signatures to register his al-Ghad party last year.
Early this year, he was detained for six weeks.
Nour complained of the court's questioning whether he was the son of his father, and the presence of state security officials who took notes of the trial.
"Why are they taking notes?" he asked. "It's very humiliating," Nour said of the trial. "This is more than I can take."
A lawyer himself, Nour added: "I have never before requested the removal of a panel of judges."
But defence lawyers for two other accused told the judges they wanted them to remain.
The judges adjourned the proceedings.
Nour has pleaded innocent and says the government is trying to frame him. If found guilty, Nour would be prevented from running in the parliamentary elections scheduled for November.
Hosni Mubarak was re-elected in
September with 88% of the vote
Most of his co-defendants have claimed Nour ordered them to commit the forgery, but he says he does not even know them.
One of the prosecution's witnesses, Ayman Hasan, has recanted his statement, saying the security forces threatened his family to force him to testify against Nour.
In the 7 September elections, President Hosni Mubarak was re-elected with 88% of the vote, but Nour surprised observers by finishing second, albeit with only 7%. The turnout was 23%.
Shortly after the elections, several al-Ghad legislators challenged Nour's leadership, but a general meeting of the party confirmed Nour as head.