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Egypt

Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi says no stability in Egypt until coup overturned

Mohammed Morsi has said Egypt will have no stability "without removing consequences of the coup" that unseated him. The army ousted Egypt's first democratically elected president after protests against his one-year rule.

Morsi's lawyer, Mohammed al-Damati, told reporters that the former president still considers himself Egypt's leader. On November 4, a court opened Morsi's trial on charges of inciting the killing of opposition protesters outside the presidential palace in December.

"Egypt will not recover without removing the consequences of the coup and holding to account those responsible for shedding Egyptians' blood," Morsi said in the statement, read out on his behalf by Damati, who had visited him in prison on Tuesday.

Morsi took power as Egypt's first democratically elected president after the country's 2011 revolution led to the ouster of the autocrat Hosni Mubarak. During the summer, Morsi's July 3 overthrow triggered mass protests and street violence in Egypt, leaving hundreds dead. Over the ensuing months, a fierce crackdown by security forces has crippled Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood, led to the arrests of several thousand top leaders, and the deaths of hundreds of protests.

A court order banned the Brotherhood and a government-appointed committee has begun reviewing its financial assets with an eye to seize them. The interim military-backed government has pushed ahead with a transition plan aiming for new presidential and parliamentary elections early next year.

'Crime and treason'

Ahead of his trial, the interim government had kept Morsi incommunicado in an undisclosed location. Officials moved Morsi to a high-security civilian penitentiary last week after the first session of his trial on charges of inciting murder. On Tuesday, he had his first extensive meeting with a team of lawyers from his Muslim Brotherhood and other allies, dictating the "message to the Egyptian people" to them.

Morsi's trial will resume on January 8. If convicted, he could face a life sentence or the death penalty.

"This coup is a crime and treason," Damati quoted Morsi as saying. "I see this coup starting to collapse."

Security officials worry protests could flare stronger with Thursday's anticipated lifting of a state of emergency and curfew imposed on August 14. Ahead of the lifting, the government announced in a statement that it had reviewed security plans, which include increasing police deployments such as mobile and fixed checkpoints in the streets.

"Any attempts to destabilize the country or undermine state or citizen's security will be dealt with firmly in accordance with the law," the statement read.

mkg/dr (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)