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Trial of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy postponed

By Sarah Sirgany. Saad Abedine and Laura Smith-Spark, CNN
updated 2:47 PM EST, Wed January 8, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The second session in the trial of Mohamed Morsy is postponed until February
  • Morsy supporters clash with security forces by courthouse and in Cairo's Nasr City
  • The former Egyptian President is being tried with 14 other Muslim Brotherhood members
  • Morsy has been in detention since he was forced from power in July

Cairo (CNN) -- The trial of former Egyptian President Mohamed Morsy on charges of inciting the murders of at least three protesters in 2012 has been postponed until February 1 because he did not appear in court Wednesday.

Morsy is charged alongside 14 other members of the Muslim Brotherhood. If convicted, they could face the death penalty.

The second session in their trial was due to take place Wednesday, after a chaotic opening hearing in November.

But according to a letter read by the judge in court, the helicopter that was transporting Morsy from prison could not take off due to poor weather conditions -- despite earlier reports in state media that the ousted President had arrived in court.

One of Morsy's co-defendants, former Parliamentarian Essam el-Erian, told reporters from the stand before the session that the trial was a "political vendetta."

HRW: Arrests taken to new level in Egypt
Morsy's message of defiance

El-Erian, the vice chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, was arrested in October.

He said Morsy is still the legitimate elected President and is still not being allowed to meet with lawyers or family.

"Our stance is still the same. This is an unjust trial. This is an unconstitutional trial," el-Erian said.

The judge made the public prosecution responsible for bringing Morsy to the hearing on February 1.

Lawyer Ramy Ghanem told CNN it's up to the judge to decide whether or not to proceed with a hearing if a defendant already in custody is not present.

Morsy has yet to accept legal representation, so he had no lawyer to represent him in court Wednesday. A lawyer appointed by the Freedom and Justice Party to represent him did not show up.

Egypt's interim Cabinet officially labels Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group

Morsy supporters, security forces clash

A number of Morsy supporters gathered Wednesday morning outside the police academy where the trial session was to be held. Some were arrested because of skirmishes with police, according to Nile TV.

Hundreds of protesters also staged a pro-Morsy demonstration after prayers at al-Salam mosque in Cairo's eastern Nasr City area. According to state media and the Muslim Brotherhood's website, they clashed with security forces that fired tear gas.

According to the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram, the protesters had planned to march to the nearby police academy.

Meanwhile, roads leading to Cairo's Tahrir Square, the scene of many mass public protests, were closed after calls from pro-Morsy forces to march in support of the ousted President during the trial.

Morsy, who was deposed by the military amid widespread protest of his rule, has been in detention since early July.

The charges stem from December 2012 protests over a constitution that Morsy shepherded into effect. Egyptian authorities have accused the former President and his staff of ordering supporters to attack protesters outside the presidential palace after guards and members of the Interior Ministry refused to do it.

Morsy has said he doesn't recognize the court's authority, claiming he still is Egypt's legitimate President.

Muslim Brotherhood members have continued their protests, even though the government declared the group a terrorist organization last month. The government has threatened to arrest anyone who attends Muslim Brotherhood protests or provides financial support to the organization.

Egypt is due to hold a referendum on January 14 and 15 on a new constitution that would ban religious parties and put more power in the hands of the military.

READ: State media: Egypt's Morsy faces trial for 2011 prison break

READ: The rise and rapid fall of Egypt's Mohamed Morsy

Journalist Sarah Sirgany reported from Cairo and CNN's Saad Abedine from Atlanta, while Laura Smith-Spark wrote in London. CNN's Schams Elwazer contributed to this report.

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