December 13, 2013
Morsi to go on trial, Kerry visits as Egypt toils for democracy
Egypt's first freely elected president, Mohamed Morsi, goes on trial tomorrow under a security crackdown that has devastated his Muslim Brotherhood movement and raised concerns that the army-backed government is reimposing a police state.
Mursi, who was ousted by the army on July 3 after mass protests against his rule, is due to appear in court at the same Cairo police academy where autocrat Hosni Mubarak also faces trial following his own overthrow in 2011.
Morsi, who has been held in secret location since his removal after only a year in office, is due to appear along with 14 other senior Muslim Brotherhood figures on charges of inciting violence.
In the most senior visit to Cairo by a US official since Mursi's fall, Secretary of State John Kerry called for a fair, transparent trial for all Egyptians.
The defendants could face a life sentence or death penalty if found guilty. That would probably further inflame tensions between the Brotherhood and government, deepening the instability that has devastated investment and tourism in a country where a quarter of people live under the poverty line.
When the army ousted Morsi, it promised a political roadmap would lead to free elections. What followed was one of the harshest clampdowns on the Brotherhood, which is now struggling to survive after enduring state repression for decades.
In August, riot police backed by army snipers crushed protest camps in Cairo demanding the reinstatement of Morsi, a US-trained engineer.
Security officials accuse Brotherhood leaders of inciting violence and terrorism. Hundreds of the movement's members and supporters have been killed and many of its leaders jailed.