Egypt’s Morsi back on trial over jailbreak

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CAIRO – Egypt’s deposed president Mohamed Morsi went on trial Tuesday on charges of breaking out of prison during the 2011 uprising against veteran strongman Hosni Mubarak.

Morsi, ousted by the army in July, is already on trial for inciting the killings of opposition activists during his presidency and faces two other trials that have yet to begin.

Official news agency MENA said the trial had commenced, but did not say whether Morsi was present in the dock.

An AFP correspondent present in the courtroom was unable to communicate as authorities had taken away the mobile phones of reporters covering the proceedings.

Until now, Morsi has only been brought to court once, for the first hearing on November 4 over the killings of opposition activists.

He is being tried with 130 others, including members of his banned Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist Palestinian movement Hamas and Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah.

The trial is being held under tight security in a makeshift courtroom inside a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo.

The Islamist leader was deposed following massive popular protests against his one-year rule.

He also faces charges of espionage involving Hamas, with that trial due to open on February 16, and for insulting the judiciary, for which a date has yet to be set.

Tuesday’s hearing comes a day after the powerful military gave its backing to army chief Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to run for the presidency after he led the ouster of Morsi — Egypt’s first democratically elected president.

The trial is part of a relentless government crackdown on Morsi and his Islamist supporters that has seen more than 1,400 peopled killed since he was deposed, according to Amnesty International.

Most of those killed have been pro-Morsi demonstrators in street clashes with police and the former president’s opponents.

Tuesday’s trial date is symbolic as it marks the third anniversary of the prison break.

Prosecutors have said almost 70 of the defendants belonged to Hamas or Hezbollah and that some of them were also accused of murdering police officers and helping thousands to escape during the jailbreak.

Morsi was among those who escaped from Wadi Natrun jail.(AFP)

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