Morsi trial delayed to Feb 1 after court absence

Supporters of Muslim Brotherhood ousted president Mohamed Morsi flash the "Rabaa" sign behind barbed wire outside the police academy where takes place the second hearing in his murder trial, on Jan 8, 2014 in Cairo. An Egyptian court on Jan 8, 2014,
Supporters of Muslim Brotherhood ousted president Mohamed Morsi flash the "Rabaa" sign behind barbed wire outside the police academy where takes place the second hearing in his murder trial, on Jan 8, 2014 in Cairo. An Egyptian court on Jan 8, 2014, adjourned the murder trial of deposed president Mohamed Morsi to February 1, citing "weather conditions" that prevented the Islamist's transport to court from his prison. -- PHOTO: AFP

CAIRO (AFP) - An Egyptian court on Wednesday adjourned the murder trial of deposed president Mohamed Morsi to February 1, citing "weather conditions" that prevented the Islamist's transport to court from his prison.

It had been scheduled as the second hearing in Morsi's trial, after an initial court appearance in November in which he denounced the tribunal and insisted he was still the country's president.

Morsi, who was toppled by the military in July, is accused of inciting the killings of opposition protesters in December 2012 outside the presidential palace.

"Because of the weather conditions, Mohamed Morsi could not be brought, so the trial will be adjourned to February 1," said presiding judge Ahmed Sabry Youssef.

Morsi is detained in prison some 60km from the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.

He is on trial with 14 co-defendants, but only several were brought on Wednesday to the makeshift court house in a police academy on Cairo's outskirts.

Elsewhere, police fired tear gas at Morsi's supporters who had rallied in protest at the trial.

In Cairo's Nasr City neighbourhood, tyres were burnt and some car windows were smashed during brief clashes. Police said they had made 14 arrests.

In the police academy, defendants were held in a room adjacent to the court room as they waited for the hearing to start.

"This is a political trial," yelled Essam al-Erian, one of the defendants and a senior member of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood movement.

His lawyer Bahaa el-Din Abdel Rahman said his client and other defendants had embarked on a hunger strike.

"All the accused who are present today are on hunger strike and reaffirm that they reject this trial," he said.

Morsi's trial is seen as a test for Egypt's new authorities, who have come under fire for heavy-handedness.

With more than 1,000 people killed since Morsi's overthrow and thousands of Islamists arrested, the chances of political reconciliation in the Arab world's most populous nation are ever more remote.

Morsi will also face separate trials on charges of espionage and colluding with militants to carry out attacks in Egypt.