Mohammed Morsi

Egypt's ousted president, Mohammed Morsi, stands inside a glass-enclosed defendant's cage in court last month. (Associated Press / January 28, 2014)

CAIRO -- Egypt's deposed president Mohamed Morsi appeared in court on Sunday for the first hearing of the case in which he is accused of spying and conspiring to commit acts of terrorism.

In what prosecutors called "the biggest conspiracy case in Egypt's history," Morsi and 35 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders are charged with cooperating with Palestine's Hamas, the Lebanese Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard to execute terror attacks in Egypt.

Defendants are also accused of disclosing military secrets to a foreign state. They face the death penalty if convicted.

Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders appeared in a soundproofed glass cage that was heavily disputed by the defendants' lawyers.

The hearing was briefly recessed following the lawyers' decision to withdraw from the case before they stormed out of the courthouse in objection to the glass cage.

Morsi urged his lawyers to abandon the case and "not to take part in such farce." 

Upon its resumption, Judge Shaaban Al Shami adjourned the case until Feb. 23.

In addition to Sunday's case, Morsi faces two other trials on charges of inciting the killing of protesters outside the presidential palace during his rule in 2012 as well as accusations of escaping prison in a jailbreak amid the 2011 revolt.

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Hassan is a special correspondent.