Ex-president to be tried by incompetent court: Morsy lawyer

Mohamed Toson, a member of toppled President Mohamed Morsy's defense team, has told Egypt Independent that the ex-president is still the legitimate ruler of Egypt.

The court that is trying Morsy is illegitimate and incompetent, he went on.

During the conversation, the lawyer referred to Article 152 of the 2012 Constitution which sets mechanisms for trying the president of the republic.

Toson also added that security officers admitted during questioning that Morsy had given orders to exercise self-restraint when dealing with protesters outside the Ettehadiya presidential palace in December 2012.

Q: How do you see the accusations brought against Morsy of inciting the murder of peaceful demonstrators in front of the Ettehadiya Palace?
A: We did not receive the full documents of the case so we did not plead for Morsy at court.
Q : Didn't the defense team get any of the case documents?
A: In fact, we did not get a complete copy of the documents. But we read a few documents from the investigations portfolio.
Q : What evidence did the defense team find in the investigation documents proving Morsy's role in the killings?
A: There is no evidence, as the officers confirmed during interrogations that Morsy asked them to exercise self-restraint to avoid bloodshed.
Q: What about the Ettehadiya martyrs?
A: There were 10 Muslim Brotherhood youth who were killed in the Ettehadiya clashes, and other people who were killed were standing on the side of the Brotherhood youth. That means the use of arms was by the opposite side. Generally speaking, Morsy cannot be tried in this way.
Q : How should he be tried, in your opinion?
A: Mohamed Morsy is still the legitimate president of the country. His term of office should have ended in one of three ways: death, completing his legal term of office, or he stepped down. None of these happened.
Q: What about overthrowing him through a revolution on 30 June, like Mubarak was overthrown in January 2011?
A: Morsy's situation is different from Mubarak's, because the latter authorized SCAF to manage the country's affairs and stepped down. Morsy on the other hand has held on to his legitimacy, and if he is tried, it must be in accordance with the Constitution.
Q : Which constitution?
A: The Constitution of 2012.
Q: It was suspended.
A: We do not recognize a constitution other than that ratified by the people through referendum. Article 152 states that the president could only be tried upon the request of one-third of parliament, and he should be referred to trial following the consent of two-thirds. According to the same article, the president should be tried before a special court headed by chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council and the court has to include the oldest deputies at the Constitutional Court, the oldest deputies at the State Council, and the oldest heads of the Courts of Appeal.
Q: Was the defense team able to sit with Morsy on his own?
A: Yes, four of the defense team met with him for 15 minutes after the trial was adjourned in a room off the main chamber. The four lawyers were former presidential hopeful Mohamed Salim al-Awa, Mohamed Damaty, Osama al-Helw, and myself.
Q: What did you say?
A: Each of us talked with him for a few minutes and he sticked to his position. We assured him that the court he is being tried in is incompetent and that he is the legitimate president of Egypt according to the law and the Constitution.
Q: What did he say?
A: He said he was detained in a place he did not know, adding that four judges came to the place of his detention for interrogation. He said when he asked judges about where he was detained, they told him they did not know.
Q: Do you know where he was detained?
A: We do not know exactly, but he told us he was transferred once between two places. Most likely he was detained at a naval unit, but we are not sure in which governorate.
Q : What does the defense team plan to do in the coming sessions?
A: We submitted a request to meet Morsy in Borg al-Arab prison [near Alexandria] and we requested a full copy of the documents for the case. We are confident though there is no evidence proving that he incited murder.
Q: Is the defense team depending on international pressure for Morsy's release?
A: We do not care for governments. The coup would not have taken place if the United States had not backed it. We count on people who reject seizing power through military coups.
Q: What do you make to Morsy being brought to court in a microbus?
A: We do not care about the details. Morsy appeared steadfast, unlike Mubarak who used to hide his face behind his sunglasses.
Q: Will the defense team continue pleading for Morsy despite not recognizing the trial?
A: We will attend the coming sessions after studying the documents of the case.

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