CAIRO : The trial of Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood chief and his deputies on charges related to protest deaths came to an abrupt end Wednesday when the judges walked out, citing chaos in the dock.
The previous session on October 29 of the trial of Mohamed Badie and 34 co-defendants had also been halted when the three presiding judges withdrew, citing “reasons of conscience”.
On Wednesday, a new panel of three judges appointed to hear the case recused themselves after the accused Brotherhood members yelled strings of anti-government slogans from the dock.
Badie and his two deputies, Khairat al-Shater and Rashad al-Bayoumi, face charges of inciting the murders of nine protesters who stormed the Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters on June 30.
If found guilty, they could face the death penalty.
Three other accused Islamists also face murder charges while 29 are charged with participating in acts of violence.
Millions of protesters on June 30 called for the ouster of Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, accusing him of working for the sole benefit of the Brotherhood, ruining an already dilapidated economy and monopolising power following the 2011 overthrow of long-time ruler Hosni Mubarak.
Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, was deposed by the army on July 3.
During Wednesday’s session, presiding judge Mostafa Salama suspended proceedings as Badie and his co-defendants hurled verbal abuse at the government installed by the military in the wake of Morsi’s ouster.
But at the resumption, mayhem again erupted in the dock, with the accused jeering and yelling insults at the judges and against the government and military chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the new strongman of Egyptian politics.
“Sisi traitor, Sisi traitor,” they screamed as the judge tried in vain to restore order.
Barely audible above the din, he then adjourned the trial.
“I asked the accused to remain calm but they did not do so. Therefore we are recusing ourselves,” Salama said before he and his two fellow judges walked out.
In a brief address from the dock, Badie, dressed in white prison uniform like his fellow-accused, railed against the new authorities, accusing them of carrying out a “coup d’etat” by deposing Morsi.
“The Egyptian people tasted freedom after the revolution (which toppled longtime leader Hosni Mubarak in 2011) and since the election of Mohamed Morsi,” he yelled.. “They will not give up this freedom.”