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Egypt's ousted president Morsi to trial judge: 'Tell me who you are!'

Egyptian TV via AFP - Getty Images

Deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi appears in a makeshift courtroom on the outskirts of Cairo on Tuesday.

CAIRO - Deposed Egyptian president Mohammed Morsi shouted at a judge Tuesday as he appeared in a glass-encased metal cage at his trial for breaking out of prison.

In an exchange broadcast live on state television, the toppled leader raised his hands in the air at the trial judge and demanded: “Tell me who you are!”

The judge replied: "I am the head of the criminal court of Egypt."

The outburst came at the start of a hearing into charges that he broke out of prison during the country’s 2011 revolution. It ended shortly after as the judges set the next session for Feb. 22, giving the defense time to review evidence, state television reported.

Television coverage was expected to generate widespread interest in the trial, which comes amid Egypt's ongoing, deadly power struggle.

General Mohamed Said, an assistant interior minister, was killed Tuesday by gunmen on a motorcycle who fired on him when he left his house in Giza, security sources said.

More than 20,000 inmates escaped Egypt's prisons during the chaotic Arab Spring uprising. Morsi is one of 130 to face trial for the breakout; they are accused of conspiring with Islamist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah to arrange the escape.

Morsi and his Muslim Brotherhood organization deny the legitimacy of the trial, saying it is politically motivated and orchestrated by the country’s interim military leadership.

The ex-leader, who was overthrown on July 3, is facing four separate trials - including charges that he ordered the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace in December 2012.

As the trial continues, Morsi will give evidence from the cage, through a speaker that can be turned on or off by the court.

On Monday, Abdel Fattah al-Sissi, the popular army chief who ousted Morsi, got the green light to run for president in planned new elections.

El-Sissi was promoted Monday from general to field marshal, and then a military council authorized him to run for president.

Alastair Jamieson reported from London.

 

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