Morsi accuses Egyptian army chief of treason
Statement amounts to escalation in rhetoric since chaotic court scenes last week
Former president Mohammed Morsi: “This coup will fall by the strength of the Egyptian people and their fight for rights and freedom.” Photograph: Maya Alleruzzo/AP
Egypt’s deposed president has accused the army chief who overthrew him of treason, in a speech made on his behalf by his legal team. In only his second public statement since being arrested and held incommunicado this July, Mohamed Morsi also repeated the accusation that his overthrow constituted a military coup.
“This is a crime and treason,” lawyer Mohamed al-Damaty read yesterday on Mr Morsi’s behalf. “A crime because it has all the manifestations of a coup and treason because it betrayed the oath that the defence minister swore to the armed forces and to the Egyptian people when he took his position.”
On the first day of his chaotic trial last Monday on charges of incitement to murder, Mr Morsi stopped short of laying the blame for his overthrow on Gen Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the army chief and defence minister who toppled him following days of protests calling for military intervention.
The speech appeared to be an attempt to rally his Islamist support base, with little to mollify the millions who marched for his removal in July. It also appeared to ignore the realities of Egypt’s new status quo, which sees Mr Morsi’s supporters firmly on the back foot against a resurgent security state. Thousands of his followers have been arrested since July and about 1,000 killed at various protests since his overthrow.
“This coup will fall by the strength of the Egyptian people and their fight for rights and freedom,” Mr Morsi’s statement said. “What has happened won’t convince me to give up what I promised you before my election – to uphold the interests of the people above all else.”
His lawyers said the former president would continue to reject the authority of the court. He caused chaos at his trial last week by refusing to recognise the court or let his legal team formally represent him and by frequently speaking out of turn.
After meeting him in jail in Alexandria for the first time since he was arrested, his defence team said this strategy would continue.
Mr Morsi later claimed that Egypt – rocked by protests and an insurgency in the Sinai peninsula since his removal – would not see stability unless he was reinstated. – (Guardian service)