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Morsi faces court over Egypt prison break

Deposed leader, named "defendant 83" by court, accused of colluding with foreign groups during uprising against Mubarak.

Last updated: 28 Jan 2014 20:23
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Egypt's toppled president, Mohamed Morsi, has appeared in court in Cairo to face charges linked to his escape from prison in 2011.

Morsi was shown on state television on Tuesday dressed in a white jumpsuit and inside a metal cage in the court, being held in Cairo's police academy complex.

Morsi, referred to as defendant 83, shouted at the the judge: "Who are you? Do you know who I am?"

The judge responded, "I'm the head of the criminal court." 

The MENA agency report said Morsi was flown by helicopter from Borg al-Arab prison in Alexandria, while about 130 others were driven to Cairo. 

The trial opened the day after General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who led the army's removal of Morsi last year, was cleared by the military to run for the presidency later this year.

Prison gambit

The case against the defendants is rooted in the 2011 escape of more than 20,000 inmates from Egyptian prisons - including Morsi. Also charged are members of the Palestinian group Hamas and the Lebanese group Hezbollah.

Morsi was accused, just before his removal by the army last year, of colluding with "foreign forces", allowing him and others to break out of a high-security prison near Cairo.

He was being held in custody after a roundup of Muslim Brotherhood supporters during the uprising against the regime of Hosni Mubarak. 

A lawyer has said the trial appears aimed at "denigrating" Morsi and his Brotherhood group.

It is Morsi's second court appearance since Egypt's popularly backed July 3 military coup. He missed a January 8 hearing in another trial after security officials said bad weather grounded a helicopter meant to bring him.

The trial was adjourned to February 22.

General assassinated

In a separate development, armed men killed a senior Egyptian Interior Ministry official outside his home in Cairo on Tuesday, security officials said.

"General Mohamed Saeed, head of the technical office of the minister of interior, was targeted by gunmen inside a car who shot him and fled," one of the officials told the Reuters news agency.

The general was an aide to Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim, who survived an assassination attempt last year.

There have been an upswing in attacks on security targets in the last week. Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a group based in the Sinai Peninsula, said it carried out bombings that rocked Cairo during the third anniversary of the uprising against former President Hosni Mubarak.

Ansar said that the attacks were in response to suppression of Morsi's supporters and the Brotherhood.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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