Former president Mohammed Morsi went on trial Tuesday on charges of breaking out of prison, a day after Egypt's military endorsed the army chief who deposed him as a presidential candidate.
Morsi protested his new trial Tuesday from inside a glass-encased metal cage, declaring to the judges he remained Egypt's legitimate leader, state television reported.
According to AFP, with tensions linked to the trial running high, gunmen shot dead a police general as he left his home in a west Cairo neighborhood, the latest in a wave of attacks on security officials.
Morsi, ousted by the army in July, is already on trial for inciting the killings of opposition activists during his presidency and faces two other trials that have yet to begin.
State television showed Morsi, dressed in a white prison uniform, in the dock along with 21 other defendants, among them the supreme guide of his now-banned Muslim Brotherhood, Mohammed Badie.
He is being tried with 130 others, including dozens of members of the Brotherhood, the Palestinian movement Hamas, and Lebanon's Hezbollah.
The rest of the defendants are being tried in absentia.
The trial is being held under tight security in a makeshift courtroom inside a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo.
The Islamist leader was deposed by the army in July following popular protests against his one-year rule.
He also faces two other trials: one on charges of espionage involving Hamas which is due to open on February 16 and the other for insulting the judiciary for which a date has yet to be set.
U.S. defense chief phones Al-Sisi
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel phoned Egyptian Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi on Monday to discuss Egypt's political transition and to emphasize the strong relationship between the U.S. and Egypt in light of the "recent terrorist attacks" against Egyptian targets, a Pentagon spokesperson announced, according to The Middle East Monitor.
Hagel currently serves as a vital communication channel with the Egyptian military regime, ensuring the close military ties between Cairo and Washington.
Hagel's call came only a few hours after Egypt’s supreme military council announced its endorsement of Sisi as a candidate in the presidential election. The council issued a statement saying: "The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces cannot but look respectfully and honorably on the desire of the great Egyptian people in nominating Sisi for the presidency."
Hours before the military junta's announcement, Egypt's interim president, Adly Mansour, promoted Sisi to the symbolic rank of field marshal, state television reported.
The military backed government also issued a statement on Sunday announcing its intention to hold presidential elections before parliamentary elections, diverging from the original roadmap proposed in the wake of the coup that ousted Egypt's first democratically elected government last July.