Mubarak’s trial over Egypt protester deaths delayed

Clashes break out outside Cairo court for 2nd session of retrial; retrial adjourned on account of new evidence.

June 8, 2013 13:16
2 minute read.
Former Egyptian president Mubarak in court

Former Egyptian president Mubarak in court 370. (photo credit: Reuters screenshot)

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was due to appear in court on Saturday for a retrial on charges of complicity in the murder of protesters in the 2011 uprising, following his appeal against a life sentence.

However, the second hearing in the new trial was abruptly adjourned on Saturday for judges to review evidence.

The Cairo Criminal Court adjourned the multiple-defendant trial to Monday, according to Egyptian daily Al-Ahram.

Mubarak, 85, was brought into the caged dock sitting up in a wheelchair, wearing a white gown and sweater and familiar dark aviator glasses. The former air force general appeared alert and in fair health, his hair black and slicked back, his hand on his chin as he listened to the few minutes of procedure.

"Present," he said quietly when his name was called.

According to Al-Ahram, clashes erupted between Mubarak supporters and opponents outside the Cairo court. Families of Egyptians killed in protests that unseated Mubarak reacted angrily in court on Saturday when a judge trying the former president over the deaths barred their lawyers from taking part in the case.

Supporters of the ousted president carried his pictures and chanted for his release, whilst families of the demonstrators killed carried pictures of their loved-ones, Al-Ahram reported.

While many Egyptians have lost interest in cases brought against their fallen "Pharoah" for oppression and corruption during his 30 years in power, relatives of those who died in the crackdown in early 2011 have grown impatient with judges they see as relics of the old regime.

Some of several dozen people present in the Cairo court for the second session of the retrial taunted the defendants before the brief procedural hearing began.

"The people want to execute the killer," some of them chanted after one woman had called to Mubarak: "We love you, Mr. President."

The reopening of the case exemplifies the difficulty of transitional justice in post-revolutionary Egypt. The prosecution promised to offer new evidence including some taken from the report of a fact-finding committee set up by President Mohamed Morsi in 2012.

Mubarak and his former interior minister, Habib el-Adli, were convicted and sentenced to life in prison last June for failing to stop the killing during the uprising that swept him from power. But a court ordered a retrial in January after accepting appeals from both the prosecution and the defense.

Along with seven former senior security chiefs, Mubarak is charged with incitement in the killings of protesters who rose up against him. The 85-year-old former president is also charged with corruption, along with his two sons, Gamal and Alaa.

All of the defendants pleaded have “not guilty” to the charges leveled against them. Each cited different shortcomings with a trial that was criticized for the weak evidence offered by the prosecution.

After a three-hour session broadcast live on state television, during which the charges were read and the prosecution made a statement, the proceedings were adjourned.

Mubarak's imprisonment last June was a historic moment - he was the first ruler toppled by the Arab Spring revolts to stand trial in person. But the case exposed the difficulties of attaining justice when the judiciary and security forces are still largely controlled by figures appointed during his era.

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