The trial of Egypt’s deposed President Mohamed Morsi on charges of inciting the murder of protesters will start on November 4, the official MENA news agency reported.
Morsi will stand trial with 14 other defendants over the killings of protesters outside his presidential palace in December 2012, almost six months before his overthrow in a military coup.
The Cairo Appeals Court also named judge Ahmed Sabry Youssef to preside over the trial, MENA said.
Lawyer Mostafa Atteyah said a meeting of Morsi’s defence team, planned later on Wednesday, was to decide on the course of action and name the head of the team. He said so far the legal team has not seen the case’s documents.
“This is like all the other cases. It is a fabricated one,” Atteyah said, adding that most cases against Brotherhood members are based on weak prosecution. He said Islamist scholar and former presidential candidate Salim al-Awa is expected to lead the defence team.
The case Morsi was charged in dates back to one of the deadliest bouts of violence outside the presidential palace on December 4, protesting a decree Morsi issued to protect his decisions from judicial oversight and a highly disputed draft constitution that was hurriedly adopted by the parliament.
The next day, Morsi’s supporters attacked protesters who had camped outside the palace, sparking street battles that left at least 10 dead and bring accusations that Morsi relied on organised mobs to suppress the sit-in.
Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, however, claimed that most of those killed were his supporters.
Mostafa Al-Azm, a member of the coalition of observers to protect the revolution, which is against the military coup, said the case was “political.”
“There’s no real evidence that Morsi ordered or was involved in killing protesters at the presidential palace, that’s why it took them so long to set a trial date,” Al-Azm told Al Jazeera.
On the other hand, Tarek El-Khouly, a spokesperson for the April 6 Democratic Front movement, welcomed the decision to set a court date.
“There is definitely concrete evidence that officials at the presidency, and Morsi himself, were involved in giving orders to beat and kill his opposition,” Khouly told Al Jazeera. “We all sensed Morsi’s criminal behavior in his speeches, when he condemned protesters who called for his fall and described them as vandals and thugs.”
Leading Brotherhood members Essam el-Erian and Mohamed el-Beltagy will be tried alongside Morsi. Erian is currently in hiding.
The military has detained Morsi in a secret location since his overthrow on July 3. His supporters and opponents of military rule have demonstrated across the country since.
Hundreds of people have died in clashes with security forces and many Brotherhood figures have been arrested.
Heba Fahmy contributed reporting from Cairo.