The trial of Egypt’s deposed Islamist president, Muhammad Morsi, has been adjourned in the midst of its first session and rescheduled for January 8 after disruptions in the courtroom by Morsi and 14 other defendants from his Muslim Brotherhood organization.
A judge halted the trial on November 4 at the sprawling Cairo Police Academy complex after the defendants chanted "Down with military rule!"
Morsi himself declared, "I am the legitimate president and I demand the court end this farce."
He maintained that the court has no jurisdiction to try him. He said Egyptian military officials who ousted him from power on July 3 should be put on trial instead.
Morsi also refused to take off his civilian suit and don the prisoner's clothing required of defendants in Egypt.
A judge said that by adjourning the trial until early January, defense lawyers would have time to review documents related to the case.
Morsi’s defense team also called the legitimacy of the trial into question.
"The difference between the trial of Muhammad Morsi and the trial of [ousted Egyptian ruler Hosni] Mubarak is that Mubarak had stepped down from power [after protests] while Muhammad Morsi is still the legitimate leader," said Muhammad Toson, a lawyer representing Morsi. "Legally and constitutionally, he is still the president. This is the situation according to the rule of law and according to the constitution. Anything besides that is not considered legal nor is it constitutional."
After proceedings on November 4, Morsi reportedly was flown by helicopter to a maximum-security prison in Alexandria.
Morsi’s supporters also held a demonstration outside the court amid proceedings inside.
After a helicopter thought to be carrying the ousted president was seen flying from the Cairo venue, pro-Morsi demonstrators were seen smashing the equipment of journalists there.
There were also reports of security forces firing warning shots into the air and tear-gas canisters into the crowd to try to break up the gathering.
Maged Muhammad, a supporter of Morsi, attended the Cairo rally.
"Of course this is a sham trial," he told reporters. "They have tricked people and told them it's a real trial. We want a public trial so we can know the truth. If [the commander of Egypt’s armed forces, General Abdul Fattah] al-Sisi is really a man, and the people in his regime are real men, then we want a public trial so we can know what is right and what is illegitimate."
Abdul Rahman Mahmoud participated in anti-Morsi rallies in the past but is opposed to Morsi's trial.
"I have come here because we are looking for justice," he said. "Because right now we see a huge number of arrests and the secret police have come back, and that is not what we were demanding on the 30th of June [when anti-Morsi protesters came out on the streets]. We haven't seen justice achieved yet. All we see are people being arrested, and we can't accept that even people we disagree with are being arrested in such a repressive way."
Morsi and 14 other Islamists from the Muslim Brotherhood are charged with inciting violence that led to the deaths of about a dozen people in clashes in December 2012.
They could face the death penalty or life in prison if found guilty.
Morsi became president in June 2012 through a democratic election.
He was overthrown on July 3 by the army following mass protests against his rule, and has since been held at an undisclosed location.
After he was ousted, the interim government banned the Muslim Brotherhood and arrested dozens of senior figures.
With reporting by the BBC, AFP, Reuters, AP, and dpa