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Friday 18 April 2014

Ousted leader Morsi meets legal team in prison

This image made from video broadcast on Egyptian State Television shows ousted President Mohammed Morsi speaking from inside a mesh cage as he stands with other defendants during a court hearing at a police academy compound in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Nov. 4, 2013. After four months in secret detention, Egypt's deposed Islamist president defiantly rejected a court's authority to try him Monday, saying he was the country's "legitimate" leader and those that overthrew him should face charges instead. The trial was then adjourned until Jan. 8 after several interruptions.(AP Photo/Egyptian State Television via AP video)
This image made from video broadcast on Egyptian State Television shows ousted President Mohammed Morsi speaking from inside a mesh cage as he stands with other defendants during a court hearing at a police academy compound in Cairo

Ousted Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi is meeting with a team of lawyers for the first time since he was imprisoned after his July 3 removal, his son said.

But the deposed leader, who wants to defend himself in an ongoing trial on charges of inciting murder, has not yet agreed to let the team represent him and rather wants to discuss taking legal action against others.

Morsi has been held in a secret location since his removal on July 3, and was transferred to a high security prison in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria after the opening session of his trial on November 4. He had so far declined legal representation.

Even though Egypt is highly polarised and the army enjoys strong support, Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood has struck a consistently defiant tone, holding regular protests to oppose what they term an illegitimate coup. Morsi's trial strategy seems in line with the group's overall line of resisting the new political order at every turn.

In the opening session of his trial, his first public appearance since his removal, Morsi called his trial illegitimate, saying the panel of judges did not have jurisdiction to try a president, and repeatedly insisted he remains the country's leader. The Islamist leader called his trial a "cover for a military coup".

The trial as adjourned to January 8. At the next session, Morsi is expected to say whether he will accept the defence team assembled by the Muslim Brotherhood to represent the ousted president and his co-defendants.

Osama Morsi, himself a lawyer, said his father had still not agreed to let attorneys represent him.

Lawyers on the team had told local media that they will seek to convince Morsi to accept the defence team, and that it would not undercut his challenge to the trial's legitimacy.

Morsi and 14 co-defendants - seven of whom are still at large - are charged with inciting the killing of protesters who massed outside the presidential palace in December 2012 and demanded that he call off a referendum on a new Islamist-drafted constitution.

Brotherhood members and supporters attacked a sit-in by the protesters, sparking clashes that left 10 people dead.

Morsi and the others are also accused of inciting Brotherhood supporters to illegally hold and abuse opponents in a makeshift detention center outside the palace.

The 62-year-old ousted president is facing other accusations, including an ongoing investigation into his escape from prison with other Brotherhood leaders during the 2011 uprising against his predecessor Hosni Mubarak.

His detention in that case was renewed for 30 days on Monday pending investigation.

Osama Morsi said his father continues to refuse to cooperate with his interrogators.

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