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Originally published January 27, 2014 at 5:45 AM | Page modified January 28, 2014 at 3:30 AM

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Ousted Egypt leader in glass-encased cage at trial

Egypt's toppled President Mohammed Morsi protested his new trial Tuesday from inside a glass-encased metal cage, declaring to the judges he remained Egypt's legitimate leader, state television reported.


Associated Press

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CAIRO —

Egypt's toppled President Mohammed Morsi protested his new trial Tuesday from inside a glass-encased metal cage, declaring to the judges he remained Egypt's legitimate leader, state television reported.

Morsi and others faced the start of their trial over charges related to 2011 prison breaks on the third anniversary of one of the most violent days of Egypt's revolution that year. Morsi supporters, meanwhile, clashed with police in central Cairo as gunmen killed an aide to the country's interior minister.

State television aired recorded video of Morsi in a white jumpsuit, pacing in a metal cell separated from other defendants. Earlier, the feed was cut, something a senior state television official told local media that security forces demanded.

In the footage, Morsi raised his hands in the air and angrily questioned why he was in the court.

"Tell me who are you!" Morsi shouted, jumping inside the cage. "Do you know where I am?"

Earlier, at an unaired portion of the hearing, defendants turned their back to the court, a form of protest of their prosecution, a state television journalist described on air.

Authorities apparently resorted to the glass-encased cage to muffle the defendants' outbursts, which have disrupted the prosecution at another hearing. The judge controls the microphone to the cage.

Morsi has been held since the military removed him from office in July 3, following millions protesting against his government. He already faces three other trials on various charges, some of them carrying the death sentences.

Tuesday's case is rooted in the 2011 escape of more than 20,000 inmates from Egyptian prisons -- including Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood members, during the early days of the 18-day uprising against ousted President Hosni Mubarak.

In court Tuesday, 19 other defendants appeared with Morsi. Another 110 defendants, including members of the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Lebanon's Hezbollah, are being tried in absentia.

Authorities have said the jailbreaks were part of an organized effort to destabilize the country. Rights groups have called for an independent investigation into the chaotic events, saying they hold the police responsible for the pandemonium. A Brotherhood lawyer has said the trial appears aimed at "denigrating" Morsi and the Brotherhood.

The hearing is at a police academy complex in eastern Cairo, where a heavy security presence stood guard Tuesday.

The hearing coincides with the third anniversary of "Friday of Rage," one of the most violent days of the 2011 uprising when protesters and police clashed for hours before police withdrew from the streets and the military deployed.

Morsi supporters clashed Friday with police forces in central Cairo, miles from the courtroom, with police lobbing tear gas to disperse the crowd that had burned tires in a main busy street.

Meanwhile, the interior ministry said two gunmen on a motorcycle shot and killed a senior police officer as he left his home in the Haram district of Giza, a Cairo neighborhood. Maj. Gen. Mohammed El-Said was the head of the technical office in the interior ministry, which is in charge of police.

Also Tuesday, MENA reported that gunmen blew up a natural gas pipeline Monday night in the volatile Sinai Peninsula south of el-Arish, the capital of the North Sinai governorate. It said firefighters rushed to the scene to extinguish a fire there.

Gas pipelines have come under attacks several times since Mubarak's downfall, which led to a fracturing of Egypt's security agencies. Suicide bombings also have spiked and spilled into the capital, Cairo, and other cities. An al-Qaida-inspired group called Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or Champions of Jerusalem, has claimed responsibility for most of those attacks.

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Associated Press writer Maamoun Youssef contributed to this report.



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