CAIRO -- Egypt was on high alert Monday as authorities prepared to stage the politically charged trial of deposed Islamist president Mohamed Morsi.
Morsi, along with 14 other senior figures in his Muslim Brotherhood, faces charges of incitement to murder. The charges stem from clashes outside the presidential palace last year.
Supporters of the ousted president say he does not recognize the authority of the court, which was being convened at a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo. The well-fortified complex was also the venue for the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak, who was forced out in a popular uprising in 2011.
Morsi’s followers have called for big street protests to mark the start of his trial, and streets and squares were lined with police and soldiers. The former president's backers demand his reinstatement, which the military-backed government says will never happen.
In the four months since the army removed Morsi from office, Egyptian authorities have cracked down hard on the Muslim Brotherhood. The group has been formally banned, and thousands of its supporters are in jail. About 1,000 of them were killed in mid-August when police and soldiers broke up protest camps set up by supporters of the ex-leader.
Since the July 3 coup, Morsi has been held at an undisclosed location, with almost no contact with the outside world. Over the weekend, an Egyptian newspaper posted what it said were video images of him in detention, but the images could not be independently verified or dated. They showed him appearing healthy and talking in an animated manner.
[Updated, 12:55 a.m. PST Nov. 4: Egypt state television announced that Morsi's trial has officially started, the Associated Press reported.]
U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry, in a visit to Egypt on Sunday, called on Egyptian authorities to follow fair judicial practices. Human rights groups have said Muslim Brotherhood detainees have been systematically denied due process.
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