Egypt's military-backed authorities attempted to silence deposed president Mohammed Morsi yesterday by surrounding the dock of the court where he is facing espionage charges with thick, soundproof glass.
The opening day of the trial for the third and most serious set of charges he faces ended in farcical scenes as his lawyers walked out and other defendants and their supporters chanted slogans.
Previous court hearings were overshadowed by Mr Morsi's barking at the judges, refusing to recognise them and insisting that he remained the legitimate president.
This time his principal lawyer, Mohammed Salim al-Awa, said he was withdrawing from the case because his client could not hear what was happening.
Mr Morsi himself was briefly heard, shouting: "This is a farce. All this because you are afraid of me – you are afraid that the president is speaking."
He turned to Mr Awa and said: "If this farce continues, don't come to the court."
This set of charges accuses Mr Morsi and other leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood of espionage and plotting against the country with foreign powers – mainly Hamas, the Gaza-based Palestinian group which is an offshoot of the Brotherhood.
The prosecution has described the 'plot' as the biggest criminal conspiracy in Egypt's history. It claims that, from 2005, the Brotherhood conspired with Hamas, militant jihadist groups, Hezbollah and even Iran to seize power. The Brotherhood has rejected all the allegations. The charges carry the death penalty.
Separately, four people – three of them pilgrims – were killed yesterday by a bomb that tore through their bus in Sinai. (© Daily Telegraph, London)