Perhaps the military rulers will realise, in the coming days that the presence of the elected president Mohamed Morsi, in the presidency cage would be much more merciful and less costly to them than his presence behind bars or standing in front of the comical courts' judges. What happened yesterday morning during the short, private opening session is an indicator of this.
The military rulers, along with the Egyptian judicial system, should be the ones actually standing in the defendants' dock, as well as the official and private media outlets. This regime, an extension of Mubarak's regime, believed that overthrowing the elected president and putting him, along with most high and low ranking Muslim Brotherhood leaders, behind bars would end the Egyptian crises and restore security, stability and prosperity to the country. What is actually happening is quite the opposite, despite the attempts to cover up and de-fraud at every level.
President Mohamed Morsi proved in the dock, that he was at least morally stronger than his jailer, Colonel Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the head of the country and the leader of the Egyptian army. The ruling Egyptian regime seemed to be uncomfortable dealing with the trial and this situation; not only did they change the venue the day before, but seemed afraid to broadcast the trial live as Hosni Mubarak's trial by Field Marshal Tantawi had been. They deployed 20,000 soldiers and 1,500 tanks to guard the building, as if they were going to war.
President Morsi has the right to declare, as he did during the first session in court, that he is "the President of the republic" and that those who should be tried were those who overthrew legitimacy, disrupted the people's will and the rule of the ballot box in the first free presidential elections in Egypt's history.
He also has the right to question a judiciary that has tried an elected president ousted by a military coup for fabricated crimes. A fair and independent judiciary should refuse to give up its neutrality and independence and oppose its politicisation.
President Morsi did not commit any criminal offenses punishable by law and if a crime was actually committed, the crime was against him and his colleagues because they wouldn't "kill a fly". It was their supporters who were killed, tortured and politically arrested, including those who were killed in cold blood in front of the Republican Guard's headquarters, in Rabaa al-Adawiyya and al-Nahda squares. They were shot by security forces and the army, or crushed to death by tanks and bulldozers.
The charges against President Morsi are fabricated and the trial is purely political. To say that he incited murder is both distasteful and unconvincing. How could he have ordered the killing of demonstrators and protesters in front of his palace when his opponents were on the verge of breaking into the palace to kill him, forcing him to escape from a back door and 8 of the 10 victims were his supporters? How can he stand in the defendants' dock on charges of incitement to murder, while those who actually murdered i.e. the Minister of Interior, have not been charged with anything, such as Habib el-Adli and his aides? What's more is that they were the ones who committed massacres in the squares when they forcefully dispersed the protests with live ammunition.
Perhaps the most comical charge President Morsi faces is his conspiring with the Islamic resistance movement, Hamas. Since when has communicating with our resisting brothers become a crime worthy of condemnation and imprisonment? Didn't President Mubarak's regime and its figures communicate with Hamas and host its leaders in the most luxurious hotels in Egypt, rolling out the red carpet for them every time they landed at one of Egypt's airports or crossings? Those of us who followed their trials did not hear of any of them being charged with conspiring with the movement, nor have we heard this mentioned in any of the Palestinian movement's trials. If collaborating with Hamas is a crime, we must re-try Mubarak, the Arab League, and the old and new leaders of the Egyptian intelligence.
President Morsi is still the legitimate president of Egypt, whether or not we agree with him. If he made mistakes during his term or failed to save the country from crises, then he should be politically tried in the parliamentary and presidential elections, by the people, through the ballot box. His reign only lasted 12 months before the demonstrations, protests, sit-ins and the bullying by his opponents, the supporters of the former regime, who were determined to overthrow his rule and did not give him the opportunity to fix his mistakes or even catch his breath.
Those who deserve to be tried are the individuals who ousted the elected president, sent tanks and bulldozers to crush the peaceful protestors in the Rabaa al-Adawiyya and in front of the Republican Guard headquarters and turned Egypt into a military dictatorship. They took hold of the other's opinions, silenced the media, and aborted freedom of expression, the most significant achievement of the great Egyptian revolution.
Egypt needs an extremely strong man, embodying a third option, to put an end to this absurdity and restore the country's prestige and respect for legitimacy. He needs to lay the foundation for a true democracy based on national reconciliation and committed to coexistence and ending segregation. Without this, and in light of the vengeful conflicts we are currently witnessing, we do not think the country will experience stability any time soon.
This is a translation of the Arabic text published in El Shaab Newspaper on 4 October, 2013
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.