CAIRO — The leader of the Muslim Brotherhood appeared in court on Monday for the first time since he was arrested in a state crackdown on the group following the army overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.
Brotherhood General Guide Mohamed Badie, 70, denied his group had perpetrated any violence, speaking from the cage reserved for defendants where he appeared with other prominent Islamists including Mohamed el-Beltagi and Essam el-Erian.
”Why aren't you investigating the murder of my son, and the burning of my house and the groups' offices?” said Badie, referring to his 38-year old son killed in August 17 protests ignited by the violent dispersal of Brotherhood sit-ins.
The case being heard on Monday relates to violence that flared in mid-July near a Brotherhood protest camp at Cairo University. Badie faces charges including inciting the violence.
Morsi's downfall triggered the worst bout of internal strife in Egypt's modern history.
Security forces killed hundreds of Morsi's supporters during protests, while lethal attacks on the security forces have become commonplace since his downfall. Some 200 soldiers and policemen have been killed. The army deposed Morsi on July 3 following mass protests against his rule.
Most of the Brotherhood's leadership has been arrested since then. Morsi is himself standing trial on charges of inciting the killing of protesters during violence outside the presidential palace a year ago.
His trial began on November 4.
The defendants interrupted Monday's session chanting against generals who the Brotherhood says have stolen power from the country's first freely elected head of state.
”Down with military rule,” shouted Beltagi, leading the other defendants in chants.
The men on trial in the case include Bassem Ouda, the former minister of supplies.
The Brotherhood, Egypt's best organized political force, propelled Morsi to power last year in the country's first freely contested presidential election.
Since July the movement has largely been driven underground, with thousands of its supporters arrested. The group's activities have also been banned by a court ruling.
Pressing the crackdown, the government will this week begin steps to take control of 62 schools run by Brotherhood members, the state-run al-Ahram newspaper reported.
The defendants flashed the four-finger hand sign symbolizing the killing of hundreds of Mursi supporters at a protest camp broken up by the police in August.