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Judges resign from Muslim Brotherhood trial in Egypt

The Cairo judges presiding over the trial of the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership have resigned. They cited their "uneasiness," without elaborating further on why they stepped down.

A three-judge panel tasked with trying Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and his two deputies has resigned just before the second session was set to convene. Judge Mohammed el-Qarmouti (pictured) announced the decision on Tuesday, saying that the court "felt uneasiness," but he didn't provide further details.

That means the trial will have to start from scratch, although the defendants will remain in custody. Badie and his two deputies Khairat el-Shater and Rashad al-Bayoumi are charged with inciting the June 30 shooting deaths of nine protesters outside the Muslim Brotherhood's Cairo headquarters. Thirty-two members of the movement are being tried along with Badie and his two deputies on charges connected with the shootings.

Although the judges did not elaborate on the reasons for their collective resignation, defense attorney Mustafa Attiya said that the court had been pressured by security officials to hold the trial inside Tora prison, where the defendants are in custody.

"The judges refused, but the pressure continued," said Attiya, who represents Badie. "This is not a trial - this is a farce."

Since the trial began in August, proceedings have been held in the court's chamber. However, Badie and the other defendants have not appeared in court for fear that their presence would spark protests by Muslim Brotherhood supporters outside the building. Trying the accused in prison would presumably enable tightened security.

The separate trial of former President Mohammed Morsi is set to begin on November 4. Morsi was ousted in a military coup on July 3.

slk/mkg (AP, AFP, dpa)