Defiant Morsi calls himself 'legitimate president' of Egypt as trial begins

Egypt's ousted president, Mohammed Morsi, declared himself the country's “legitimate president” on Monday on the first day of a trial that adjourned almost as soon as it began.

Morsi is facing charges of inciting violence following his ouster by the Egyptian military in July after mass protests against his Muslim Brotherhood government. The trial is set to resume on Jan. 8, The New York Times reports, after chants by Morsi and the other defendants drowned out the proceedings.

"This trial is illegitimate," Morsi reportedly told the judge, according to witnesses in the Cairo courtroom.

ADVERTISEMENT
The politically charged trial presents a major challenge for the Obama administration, which cut off most of the U.S. aid to Egypt last month but seeks to retain good relations with the country's new military-led government.

In public remarks Sunday before meeting with military leader Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Secretary of State John Kerry said President Obama was committed to avoid “disrupting the relationship with Egypt” and said the administration's hands were tied with regard to the aid cut.

“We understood that the decision with respect to some aid, which has been held back for a period of time, we knew that in some places, obviously, that wouldn’t be well received,” Kerry told reporters after meeting with Foreign Minister Nabil Fahmy. “But it’s not a punishment. It’s a reflection of a policy in the United States under our law. We have a law passed by the United States Congress regarding how certain events unfold with respect to the change of a government in a country, and we’re bound by that.”

Kerry did not mention Morsi or his trial, reserving much of his criticism for violence against Egyptian security forces.

Please send tips and comments to Julian Pecquet: jpecquet@thehill.com

Follow us on Twitter: @TheHillGlobal and @JPecquetTheHill

More in International

Anti-government protests rattle Egypt

Read more »