Cairo Criminal Court Chairman Mustafa Salama recused himself on Wednesday from the trial of 18 Muslim Brotherhood leaders accused of killing protesters, citing “distress”.
Muslim Brotherhood Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie, his deputies Khairat El-Shater and Rashad Bayoumi are facing, alongside other Brotherhood leaders, the charge of killing protesters amid clashes in front of the group’s headquarters in Moqattam on 30 June and 1 July. The case was referred to the Cairo Appeals Court for reassignment to a different district.
Mohamed Al-Damaty, from the defendants’ legal team, said that the judge has the right to recuse himself without explanation.
“Throughout Wednesday’s session, the defendants repeatedly chanted against military rule, loudly objecting to the circumstances of their trial,” Al-Damaty said. “I believe the judges did not wish to tolerate the chants of the defendants.”
Other defendants in the trial include Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) Chairman Saad Al-Katatny, former Supreme Guide Mahdi Akef, former Youth Minister Osama Yassin, and leading Brotherhood figures Mohamed Al-Beltagy and Essam El-Erian.
This is the second time a judge has recused himself from this case. On 29 October, Judge Mohamed Amin Al-Qarmouty of the Cairo Criminal Court withdrew from the same case, also citing “distress.” Al-Damaty said that the judge had recused himself then because the defendants failed appear in court twice in a row.
The prominent Brotherhood figures are facing charges of complacency in the killing of protesters in front of the group’s headquarters in Moqattam through incitement and conspiracy.
“We don’t recognise the deceased in question as protesters,” Al-Damaty said. “They were attempting to break into the Brotherhood’s headquarters.”
Al-Damaty denied the charges his clients face, calling the trial “a political matter disguised under the guise of the Penal Code and the Procedures Law.”
Nine people were killed in 30 June violence when anti-Muslim Brotherhood protesters rallied outside the Brotherhood’s Moqattam headquarters.