Mohamed Morsi court appearance postponed until 1 February

Bad weather delays Morsi’s flight from Alexandria to Cairo, where he was due to face charges of inciting killing of protesters

Egypt’s ex-president Mohamed Morsi failed to attend the second session of his trial after the presiding judge said bad weather stopped him from being flown from his Alexandria jail to the court in Cairo.

The hearing was adjourned within seconds and a new session scheduled for 1 February. The unexpected adjournment prevented a repeat of the pandemonium witnessed at Morsi’s first hearing in November, during which anti-Morsi journalists scuffled with defence lawyers and Morsi refused to recognise the jurisdiction of the court.

The trial is one of three faced by Morsi. He will be charged with inciting the murder and torture of protesters outside the presidential palace in Cairo in December 2012. Morsi also faces separate trials for escaping from prison during the 2011 uprising and for allegedly colluding in an elaborate seven-year conspiracy involving Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.

Even with Morsi absent, the courtroom was still at times chaotic, with one of Morsi’s 14 co-defendants, Essam el-Arian, shouting an impromptu speech from the dock before the judge entered.

“This is revenge – political revenge,” said El-Arian who, like Morsi, is a senior official in the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood. “We’ve been here since 1.30 in the morning. It’s unfair and unconstitutional.”

El-Arian’s speech was interrupted by prosecution lawyers, who shouted “shut up” and asked officials why he had been allowed to speak before the start of proceedings. But the commotion witnessed at the November hearing was avoided after officials placed rows of police conscripts between the media and the legal teams.

Local press reports claimed that another Brotherhood defendant, Mohamed el-Beltagy, collapsed in the dock – exhausted by his continuing hunger strike. But neither the Guardian nor other journalists sitting closest to the dock saw him faint.

Speaking after the short session, lawyers for the victims’ families expressed confidence about the strength of the evidence against Morsi and his co-defendants. “There are 78 witnesses and the first 20 are from the police and the army,” said Ramy Ghanem, one of the lead lawyers. “The officers said Morsi knew what was going on outside the palace [in December 2012], and that he didn’t try to protect anyone – and on that basis they said he gave the order [for the killing of protesters] to happen.”

Another lawyer for the victims, Ragia Omran, said the evidence against Morsi was stronger than that gathered against his predecessor Hosni Mubarak, whose convictions following his removal in 2011 were overturned on appeal. “We have documented videos and names of the people involved, so on legal grounds this case is very strong,” argued Omran. “It’s very different to Mubarak.”

Morsi and his colleagues from the Brotherhood are alleged to have ordered Brotherhood members to attack a protest camp outside the presidential palace – a move that led to an all-night street fight in which at least 10 died, including several supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Morsi’s allies have previously asked why no one has been charged over the deaths. © 2014 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds