Murder trial of Egypt's Morsi to start in November

An Egyptian court on Wednesday set 4 November as the opening date for the trial of ousted president Mohamed Morsi on charges of inciting the murder of protesters, state media reported.

Morsi will stand trial with 14 other defendants over the killings of protesters outside his palace in December 2012, almost seven months before his ouster in a military coup, the official MENA news agency reported.

Trying Morsi, in detention since he was deposed on 3 July, will likely inflame a protest movement by his Islamist backers, who clashed on Sunday with security forces leaving 57 people dead.

Prosecutors have charged Morsi with "inciting his supporters to commit premeditated murder" during the 5 December clashes outside his presidential palace.

He will stand trial before a Cairo district court, MENA reported.

At least seven people were killed in violence between the Islamist's loyalists and opponents that erupted after he passed a temporary decree placing his decisions beyond judicial review.

Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood claimed that most of those killed were Islamists, an assertion disputed by his opponents. One journalist who opposed Morsi was killed in the violence.

The clashes broke out when Brotherhood supporters dispersed a sit-in outside the palace by Morsi's secular leaning opponents.

Morsi's co-defendants will include several of his aides and Brotherhood leaders. The military has detained Morsi at a secret location since his overthrow.

The other defendants have been jailed since then or are on the run.

Following Morsi's ouster, security forces launched an extensive crackdown on his backers that has killed over 1 000 people, while strangling the Muslim Brotherhood with mass arrests and a ban on the organisation.

Hundreds of the Islamists' loyalists were killed on 14 August when security forces violently dispersed two protest camps set up by his supporters in Cairo.

Much of the Brotherhood's leadership, including Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, are standing trial on other charges.

Morsi's trial is likely to further cement a stalemate between his embattled supporters who demand his release and the country's new military-installed authorities.

Western mediators including EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton had demanded Morsi's release as a good will gesture, but were rebuffed by the government which accuses the Brotherhood of "terrorism".

Following the dispersal of pro-Morsi protest camps in Cairo, Islamists attacked dozens of Christian properties across the country, accusing the minority of backing the coup.

More than three months after his overthrow and ensuing crackdown, the Brotherhood now appears intent of continuing sometimes violent protests in a bid to destabilise the new government.

The movement has called for more marches on Friday to head to Tahrir Square in central Cairo, in a repeat of Sunday's protests that turned deadly.

Although the Brotherhood publicly demands Morsi's reinstatement, its leaders privately say they would settle for their leaders' release and that officials responsible for the killings of protesters be held to account.

Morsi, who ruled for one extremely divisive year before his popularly backed ouster, will be the second Egyptian president standing trial over the killings of protesters.

His predecessor Hosni Mubarak, overthrown in early 2011, is on trial for complicity in the deaths of protesters during the 18-day uprising that forced him to resign.

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