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Trial of Muslim Brotherhood leaders political, says lawyer

Remnants of a poster of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi are pictured on a wall on a street in Cairo August 25, 2013. REUTERS/Muhamma
Remnants of a poster of ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi are pictured on a wall on a street in Cairo August 25, 2013. REUTERS/Muhamma

By Lin Noueihed

CAIRO (Reuters) - The leader of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood was beaten by police during his arrest, and his trial is part of an attempt by the military to eliminate its political foes, a defense lawyer said on Sunday.

The trial of Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood's "General Guide", and his two deputies opened on Sunday but was immediately adjourned until October 29 for security reasons.

Badie and other leaders of Egypt's oldest Islamist group were arrested after army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi deposed the freely elected President Mohamed Mursi on July 3 after mass protests. The army has installed a civilian government to rule pending a new constitution and a fresh vote.

Sitting at the lawyers' club by the Nile after the hearing, the lawyer, Mohamed Gharib, said Badie refused to recognize the authority of the judiciary after Mursi's removal or to answer questions during his interrogation in jail last week.

"As soon as General Sisi finished his speech on July 3, in which he announced the suspension of the constitution and the appointment of an interim president ... Khairat al-Shater, Saad Katatni, Rashad Bayoumy and Mohammed Mehdi Akef were arrested," said Gharib, referring to some of the senior Brotherhood officials now behind bars.

"This shows that the leaders of the bloody military coup want to get rid of their political foes."

Egypt's judges fiercely defend their independence.

Bayoumy and Shater went on trial alongside Badie on Sunday.

FALSE TEETH KNOCKED OUT

Gharib said 70-year-old Badie, a veterinarian by profession, had his false teeth knocked out during his arrest last week and does not have access to his blood pressure medication in jail.

"Badie had his place of residence ... raided and was beaten and insulted with language insulting his mother and father and their honor," said Gharib.

Pictures issued of Badie soon after his arrest last week did not appear to show serious injuries.

More than 900 people, including about 100 soldiers and police, have been killed since security forces broke up two pro-Mursi protest camps on August 14. Brotherhood supporters say the real death toll is far higher and among those killed was Badie's son, Ammar, a 38-year-old computer engineer.

Gharib accused the prosecution of investigating the victims instead of the perpetrators. He said prosecutors had also failed to present credible evidence to the defense team.

"Justice has been turned upside down," he said. "The real victims are being hauled to jails and accused of inciting killing though (Badie's) own son has been killed."

The state accuses the Brotherhood of "terrorism" and subversion. Police stations and churches across Egypt have come under attack from what the state says are Islamist assailants.

Charges against Badie and his aides include incitement to violence in connection with anti-Brotherhood protests before Mursi's overthrow.

The Brotherhood says it does not condone violence.

Gharib said lawyers had been present when prosecutors questioned the defendants at Tora prison, where Badie and others are held, for two days.

He said that after arresting Badie and his colleagues, authorities took them directly to prison, where they have been questioned, rather than the normal practice of referring them to the prosecutor's office within 24 hours.

"So if the defendant is taken from his home to prison this is ... a breach of the legal principle of the presumption of innocence," Gharib said.

(Writing by Lin Noueihed)

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