World Bulletin/News Desk
An Egyptian court on Sunday decided to adjourn to February 23 the trial of ousted president Mohamed Morsi and 35 others on charges of espionage with the aim of carrying out terrorist attacks inside the country.
The court also decided to ask the country's Bar Association to appoint ten lawyers to defend the ex-president and the other defendants in the case.
The request came as the defendants-appointed lawyers decided to withdraw from the trial earlier on the day in protest against placing the defendants inside glass cages.
The walkout of defense lawyers prompted the trial judges to suspend the session.
When the judges resumed the trial, however, there were only two defense lawyers inside the courtroom. The lawyers said they stayed to defend two of Morsi's aides, but the latter refused their defense later.
Prior to the announcement of the lawyers, Morsi slammed the trial as "farce" and asked the defense lawyers to withdraw immediately "if this farce continued."
Other defendants chanted against the Egyptian military, according to an Anadolu Agency reporter attending the trial.
Morsi and 35 others are facing accusations of "conspiring" with the Palestinian resistance group Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah to carry out "terrorist acts" in Egypt.
The defendants appeared in sound-proof glass cages, which had already been used in other Morsi trials.
The authorities argued that the defendants can hear the proceedings but are only allowed to speak through a microphone controlled by the presiding judges.
During the 50-minute session, the lawyers dismissed the glass cages as "illegal" because they block communication with the defendants.
A defense lawyer was allowed into the cage to test the speakers inside and went out to assert that the voice was barely audible inside the cage.
When their request to remove the cages was turned down, the lawyers walked out of the courtroom and said they are withdrawing from the case.
"We cannot continue in this trial when defendants are isolated from their defense lawyers and cannot hear the court proceedings," chief lawyer Mohamed Selim al-Awa told Anadolu Agency as he walked out of the courtroom.
"The defense team decided to withdraw from the trial until the glass cages are removed," he asserted.
"We would not attend the next session until we are notified that the glass cages had been removed.
"I cannot defend a man who cannot communicate with me or the judges."
Pro-democracy protesters in Egypt staged fresh rallies, only moments before the trial of ousted president Mohamed Morsi on espionage charges kicked off in Cairo.
The pro-democracy demonstrators staged a human chain in Al-Saff town, Giza province, to denounce Morsi's trial and call for the downfall of "military rule," eyewitnesses said.
Rallies were also held in the canal province of Suez to condemn Morsi's trial. During the gatherings, the protesters held banners, reading 'invalid' and 'coup is terror.'
Two marches, meanwhile, were staged in the Upper Egyptian province of Minya, during which protesters accused police of being behind the killing of a protester last Friday.
Morsi – Egypt's first freely-elected president, who was ousted by the army last July after only one year in office – is also tried on charges of inciting the murder of opposition protesters in late 2012.
Morsi has also been charged with helping prisoners – including himself – break out of jail during Egypt's 2011 uprising, sabotaging public property and abducting security personnel.
The ousted leader, who says all charges against him and his co-defendants are politically motivated, has refused to recognize the trials' legitimacy and insists he remains Egypt's democratically-elected president.Last Mod: 16 Şubat 2014, 15:53