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CAIRO – Egypt's first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi, appeared in court Monday on charges of inciting the murder of his opponents during clashes outside the presidential palace when he was still in office.
It was Morsi's first appearance since he was ousted in a coup in July that followed demonstrations by millions calling for him to leave office. He defiantly refused to recognize the trial and insisted he was still Egypt's leader.
Morsi and his co-defendants frequently interrupted the judge. Egyptians were divided over the trial.
Morsi addressing the judge who was reading from the defendants' roll:
"I am Dr. Mohammed Morsi, the president of the republic. I am here by force and against my will. The coup is a crime and treason."
Morsi , later in the trial:
"This is not my court. This court, with all due respect, doesn't have jurisdiction over the president. There is a military coup in this country. The leaders of this coup must be brought to trial according to the constitution."
Mohammed el-Beltagy, a senior Brotherhood leader and co-defendant, to the judge:
"This referral to court is illegitimate, and it's in your name. You must bear responsibility before God and history."
The judge at one point told him: "You don't get my meaning. You will get the chance to speak." El-Beltagy snapped: "It is you, Your Honor, who doesn't get it."
Ahmed Abdel-Atti, former head of Morsi's presidential office:
"I am the head of the President's office. I was transferred to trial by a prosecutor general appointed by the coup authority. I demand to be taken out of this room."
Osama Morsi, the son of Morsi who was not present in the court Monday:
"Mohammed Morsi is one of the sons of the revolution. It was normal to see him enter the courtroom standing tall and mocking the farcical procedures."
Ahmed Abdel-Mohsen, a 42-year-old engineer:
"After all this time and all those events, I was expecting him to come up with a new narrative (that doesn't depend on) the theme of (his presidential) legitimacy. His legitimacy has come to a dead end."
Sobhi Fouad, a bearded Morsi supporter protesting outside the courtroom:
"We are not giving up. Kill a million, two million or put the 90 million (the population of Egypt) in prison, only then this revolution will be over."
Salma Fateen, a 40-year mother, also at the protests:
"Even if they hang Morsi, we will stay on the streets to get our constitution back and our parliament back."
Menna Mansour, a 22-year-old marketing executive, compared Morsi's trial and that of ousted President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak, unlike Morsi, wore the white outfit worn by criminal defendants. Morsi appeared in trial in a suit.
"The president who stayed 30 years in power (Mubarak) accepted the white prison outfit without saying a word. And this one who stayed only one year in power and was elected with few votes, and everybody took the streets against him, refuses the white outfit and speaks about legitimacy? What is this?
"The best thing about this is that I had the day off." (Many in Cairo stayed home for the day for fear of violence).