Mohammed Morsi, the deposed Egyptian president, appeared in public on Tuesday for the second time since his detention after the military takeover last July, this time locked in a soundproof glass cage as the defendant at a criminal trial.
The installation of the cage, a novelty in Egyptian courts, underscored the extent of the effort by the new government to silence the former president and his fellow defendants, about 20 fellow leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. It dominated the courtroom debate, with lawyers for the defendants arguing that it deprived the accused of their right to hear or participate in their own trial and supporters of the government crediting the soundproof barrier with preserving order in the court.
“The glass cage was the hero of today’s trial,” Egyptian state television declared.
Appearing on Tuesday, Mr. Morsi paced his cage angrily and bided his time for a chance to speak again. When the judge turned on the microphone so that Mr. Morsi could acknowledge his presence, he shouted out: “I am the president of the republic and I’ve been here since 7 in the morning sitting in this dump,” according to an account on a Brotherhood website that was confirmed by people who had been present.
“Who are you?” Mr. Morsi asked the judge.
He insisted he did not recognize the court’s authority to try him, in part since it was outside the constitutional procedures for impeaching a president.
The judge, Shaaban el-Shamy, shot back: “I am the president of Egypt’s criminal court!” He turned off the microphone in Mr. Morsi’s cage and the ousted president was silenced.
The other Islamist leaders on trial in the same case were kept in a separate glass cage, presumably to prevent communication. At times, they turned their backs to the court in defiance. When the microphone was on so the judge could ask a question, they returned to chanting against military rule.
Egyptian state television cancelled plans to broadcast the session shortly before it began, ultimately showing only limited clips later in the day. No other news organization was allowed to report live from inside the court during the hearing, and many were excluded from the session altogether.
Mr. Morsi, who was chosen as Egypt’s first elected president in June, 2012, was removed from office a year later in a military takeover after widespread street protests.
After removing Mr. Morsi, the new government began a widening crackdown on his Islamist supporters. Security forces have killed more than a thousand people at protests against the takeover and jailed thousands more, including almost all of the Brotherhood’s top leaders.
In response to the takeover, there have been an escalating series of attacks on security forces, with two more inside the capital on Tuesday alone. Two gunmen on a motorcycle assassinated General Mohamed Said, a senior Interior Ministry official, near his home in an area across the Nile River from Cairo, state media reported.