4 Nov 2013

Morsi arrives at Cairo trial as Kerry backs regime

11:28 pm on 4 November 2013

Former Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi has arrived at a Cairo police academy for the start of his trial on inciting murder.

It is the second time in just over two years that an overthrown president has been in court in Egypt, in what opponents of the army-backed government say is part of a campaign to crush his Muslim Brotherhood and revive a police state.

The trial of Morsi and 14 other Islamists on charges of inciting violence is likely to be the next flashpoint in the power struggle between the Brotherhood and the government.

They face charges of inciting violence relating to the deaths of about a dozen people in clashes outside the presidential palace in December after Morsi enraged his opponents with a decree expanding his powers.

The defendants could face a life sentence or the death penalty if found guilty, the ABC reports.

The Brotherhood has said it will not abandon street protests to pressure the army, which toppled Morsi on July 3, to reinstate him.

But a heavy security presence across the country served as a reminder of a crackdown two months ago in which hundreds of Morsi supporters were killed and thousands more rounded up.

Osama Morsi, the deposed president's 30-year-old son, said his father had not authorised a defence lawyer and the family would not be attending the trial.

"We do not acknowledge the trial. We are proud of my father and feel strong about his position."

Hundreds of Morsi supporters gathered outside the building to pledge their support for the deposed leader.

US backing

US Secretary of State John Kerry has said the United States is committed to working with Egypt's interim government to help restore democracy to the country.

Speaking after talks with the military-backed authorities in Cairo, he described Egypt as America's friend and partner, saying the country's political and economic success is vital for stability in the whole region.

Mr Kerry called for an end to all violence in Egypt and said the US was committed to working with Egypt's military-backed rulers.

Mr Kerry's visit to Cairo was not disclosed by US officials until he landed. It is the first time a US secretary of state has travelled to Egypt on a visit that is unannounced for security reasons, the BBC reports.

The visit was Mr Kerry's first to the country since President Mohammed Morsi was ousted.

The former president goes on trial on Monday. His supporters say he was removed in a coup and is now facing a politicised trial. Human rights groups accuse the security services of acting without accountability.