- POSTED: 12 Dec 2013 00:50
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The trial of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood chief and his deputies on charges related to protest deaths ended abruptly Wednesday when the judges quit in protest at chaos in the dock.
CAIRO: The trial of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood chief and his deputies on charges related to protest deaths ended abruptly Wednesday when the judges quit in protest at chaos in the dock.
The previous hearing on October 29 of the trial of Mohamed Badie and 34 co-defendants had also been halted when the three presiding judges withdrew, citing "reasons of conscience".
On Wednesday, a new panel of three judges appointed to hear the case recused themselves after the accused yelled slogans from the dock against the military-installed authorities.
Despite being ordered to keep quiet by the chief judge, the Brotherhood members continued to rail loudly against the government, which has relentlessly repressed their movement since the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July.
Badie and his two deputies, Khairat al-Shater and Rashad al-Bayoumi, face charges of inciting the murders of nine protesters who stormed the Brotherhood's Cairo headquarters on June 30.
If found guilty, they could face the death penalty.
Three other accused Islamists also face murder charges, while 29 are charged with participating in acts of violence.
Millions of protesters on June 30 called for Morsi's ouster, accusing him of working for the sole benefit of the Brotherhood, ruining an already dilapidated economy and monopolising power following the 2011 overthrow of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was deposed by the army on July 3 after just one year in office.
On Wednesday, presiding judge Mostafa Salama first suspended proceedings as Badie and his co-defendants hurled verbal abuse at the government installed by the military after Morsi's ouster.
When the hearing resumed, mayhem again erupted as the accused jeered and yelled insults at the judges, the government and military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the new strongman of Egyptian politics.
"Sisi traitor, Sisi traitor," they screamed as the judge tried in vain to restore order. Sisi had been appointed defence minister by Morsi when he became president.
Barely audible above the din, the judge then adjourned the trial.
"I asked the accused to remain calm but they did not do so. Therefore we are recusing ourselves," Salama said before he and his two fellow judges walked out.
In a brief but fiery address from the dock, Badie, wearing white prison uniform like his fellow accused, railed against the new authorities, accusing them of carrying out a "coup d'etat" by deposing Morsi.
"The Egyptian people tasted freedom after the revolution (which toppled Mubarak) and since the election of Mohamed Morsi," he yelled, in his first public comments since his arrest.
"They will not give up this freedom.
"Sisi killed people when they were praying, he killed people when they were fasting, he dumped their bodies using bulldozers as if they were garbage. Such a crime has never happened in Egypt's history."
Badie was referring to an August 14 crackdown when police stormed two protest camps set up by Morsi's supporters in Cairo, leaving hundreds dead.
During Wednesday's hearing, Brotherhood supporters continuously flashed the four-finger sign that has become associated with the crackdown, while chanting "Down with the military regime!" and "Mubarak's regime of secret police is back!"
"We don't believe in the judiciary," Shater's daughter Aisha told AFP in court.
"It's politicised and takes orders from the coup leaders. It does not follow principles of justice," she said, as behind her guards struggled to prevent relatives from reaching the dock.
Thousands of Islamists have been arrested in the crackdown which has deeply polarised Egypt.
Badie, meanwhile, is also on trial in a separate case that began on Monday on charges of inciting violence.