Ousted Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi gave evidence in his espionage trial for the first time on Sunday, launching into a tirade against his successor, whom he accused of removing him in a coup.
Morsi, Egypt’s first freely elected president, was toppled by former army chief and now president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, in July 2013 after mass protests demanding the Islamist’s resignation after a year in office.
Appearing in a caged dock dressed in white prison uniform, Morsi presented his own defence for the trial in which he stands accused of espionage along with 35 others.
“I am the president, and I have not been stripped of this title,” Morsi said during his two-hour appearance in which he attacked Sisi several times without mentioning him by name.
“On 3 July , I was surprised by military chiefs suspending the constitution and toppling the president: if this is not a coup, then what is?” said Morsi, whose ousting was followed by a relentless crackdown on his supporters that left hundreds dead.
Morsi also brushed off the authority of the court. “This court has no jurisdiction over me according to the law and the constitution. Gentlemen, you are not my judges and this is not my court,” he told the three-member panel.
Morsi accused Sisi of killing some of the roughly 800 protesters estimated to have died during the 2011 revolt that toppled long-timepresident Hosni Mubarak.
He said that during his presidency investigators had recorded statements from managers of hotels overlooking Tahrir Square, the centre of the 2011 protests, that “armed personnel from the entity headed by the leader of the coup [Sisi]” had shot demonstrators during the anti-Mubarak uprising. At the time, Sisi was the chief of military intelligence.
Months after the 2011 revolt, prosecutors filed charges against Mubarak for the deaths of protesters, but in November a court dropped the case.
Morsi is facing a separate trial for alleged involvement in the killing of opposition protesters in December 2012 when he was president, and a court is to issue its verdict in the case on 21 April. It will be the first ruling against the deposed Islamist leader.
In the espionage trial, prosecutors have accused Morsi of being part of a vast conspiracy to destabilise Egypt involving foreign powers, militant groups including Hamas, Lebanese Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard.
Morsi is also facing another trial over a prison break during the 2011 revolt. He has insisted on defending himself at all his trials.