Egyptian Judge Mohammed Fahmy al-Qarmuty said Tuesday that he and his two colleagues were stepping down from the trial of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie and a second Muslim Brotherhood leader for "reasons of conscience" right before the second session of the trial.
Badie, top leader of the Brotherhood, was arrested in August during the government crackdown on the group along with his deputy, Khairat al-Shatir. They were charged with inciting murder and violence.
Judge al-Qarmuty said "we step down in both cases, and we are sending the cases back to the head of the appeal court. The head of the appeal court will assign these cases to another court. Meanwhile, the defendants remain imprisoned."
The decision came just before authorities arrested senior Brotherhood leader Essam el-Erian, and a week before deposed President Mohammed Morsi's trial on November 4.
On Monday Morsi's supporters stated that he rejected the authority of the court to try him, and he would therefore appear with lawyers only to observe the proceedings but not defend him.
There has been a call by the Brotherhood for mass protests on the day of Morsi's trial.