Deposed Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is standing trial for the incitement of violence relating to the deaths of protesters outside the presidential palace during clashes in December 2012. Morsi was airlifted by helicopter into Cairo’s police academy on Wednesday, where his trial is taking place. Up to 20,000 security forces were on high alert for his court appearance in the capital Cairo, according to the interior ministry.
An Islamist coalition led by the Brotherhood had called for a “million man march” to coincide with the hearing. Ahead of the trial, clashes brokeout in Cairo’s Nasr City district between pro-Morsi protesters and security forces, injuring several people, according to Al Jazeera’s correspondent. Morsi first appeared in court in early November, insisting that he was still president and being held against his will.
A state prosecutor charged Morsi and 14 other Muslim Brotherhood members in 2013 with “committing acts of violence, and inciting killing and thuggery”, the state news agency reported. The charges relate to violence in which around a dozen people were killed outside the presidential palace in December 2012, after Morsi had ignited protesters’ rage with a decree that expanded his powers.
The episode was one of the most violent of his presidency. Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the presidency to demonstrate against Morsi’s decree and a divisive, Islamist-tinged constitution that he planned to put to a referendum. The Brotherhood’s leaders called on members to rally to his defence. The state news agency said they were now accused of mobilising their followers to forcibly disperse the protesters after the security forces rejected Morsi’s orders to do so.
The charges against Morsi include inciting his followers and assistants to commit crimes of premeditated murder and use violence and thuggery. Morsi was toppled just a year into his term following mass protests fuelled by anger at economic mismanagement and Brotherhood attempts to entrench its power. His downfall has led to some of the worst violence in Egypt’s modern history, in the form of protests by his supporters, a bloody police crackdown on those supporters, and attacks on the police and churches.
At least 900 people, most of them Morsi supporters, were killed in August 2013 after the authorities smashed two protest camps set up by Morsi’s supporters in Cairo. AL JAZEERA