An Egyptian court on Wednesday adjourned the murder trial of deposed president Mohammed Mursi to February 1, citing “weather conditions” that prevented the the former leader's transport to court from his prison.
It had been scheduled as the second hearing in Mursi’s trial, after an initial court appearance in November in which he denounced the tribunal and insisted he was still the country’s president.
Mursi, who was toppled by the military in July, is accused of inciting the killings of opposition protesters in December 2012 outside the presidential palace.
“Because of the weather conditions, Mohammed Mursi could not be brought, so the trial will be adjourned to February 1,” said presiding judge Ahmed Sabry Youssef.
Mursi is detained in prison some 60 kilometres from the Mediterranean city of Alexandria.
He is on trial with 14 co-defendants, but only several were brought on Wednesday to the makeshift court house in a police academy on Cairo’s outskirts.
Elsewhere, police fired tear gas at Morsi’s supporters who had rallied in protest at the trial.
In Cairo’s Nasr City neighbourhood, tyres were burned and some car windows were smashed during brief clashes. Police said they had made 14 arrests.
In the police academy, defendants were held in a room adjacent to the court room as they waited for the hearing to start.
“This is a political trial,” yelled Essam al-Erian, one of the defendants and a senior member of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.
His lawyer, Bahaa el-Din Abdel Rahman, said his client and other defendants had embarked on a hunger strike.
“All the accused who are present today are on hunger strike and reaffirm that they reject this trial,” he said.
Mursi’s trial is seen as a test for Egypt’s new authorities, who have come under fire for heavy-handedness.
With more than 1,000 people killed since Mursi’s overthrow and thousands of Islamists arrested, the chances of political reconciliation in the Arab world’s most populous nation are ever more remote.
He was catapulted from the underground offices of the long-banned Muslim Brotherhood to become Egypt’s first freely elected president in June 2012 following Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow in an early 2011 uprising.
But his single year in power was marred by political turmoil, deadly clashes and a crippling economic crisis.
In December 2012, members of the Muslim Brotherhood attacked opposition protesters camped outside the presidential palace in protest at a decree by Mursi to grant himself extra-judiciary powers.
At least seven people were killed in the clashes, and dozens of opposition protesters were detained and beaten by Mursi’s supporters.
The incident was a turning point in Mursi’s presidency, galvanising a disparate opposition that eventually organised mass protests in June 2012 that prompted the military to oust and detain the Islamist.
Mursi’s defence says there is no proof he had incited the clashes, and that most of those killed in the violence were Brotherhood members.