Mubarak denies role in killing Egyptian protesters

Lawyer for Egyptian victims asks for death penalty for ex-Egyptian interior minister accused of killing protesters; pro-Mubarak, anti-Mubarak factions clash outside trial.

August 3, 2011 13:16
Mubarak pleads not guilty

Mubarak testifies 311 R. (photo credit: REUTERS/Egypt TV via Reuters TV)


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CAIRO - Egypt's Hosni Mubarak denied charges that he was involved in the killing of protesters and other corruption charges in the trial of former president on Wednesday.

"I entirely deny all those accusations," Mubarak said speaking from the bed where he lay inside a cage for defendants in the Cairo court. His two sons, Gamal and Alaa, both holding copies of the Muslim holy book the Koran, also denied charges.

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Prosecutor asks for the death penalty

A lawyer acting for families of those killed in Egypt's uprising said the former interior minister was ordered by Hosni Mubarak to kill demonstrators and demanded execution for the ex-minister.

"He took orders from the ousted president to kill the protesters... We ask for implementation of the top punishment for the accused," the lawyer told the judge when referring to Adli's case.

Former Interior Minister Habib Adli is being tried alongside Mubarak, his sons and other defendants.

Another lawyer demanded that Mubarak be moved on a permanent basis from a hospital in Sharm e-Sheikh on the Red Sea where he has been since April to Torah prison in Cairo where other defendants are held.

Violence erupts outside the trial

Clashes broke out between pro-Mubarak and anti-Mubarak factions watching the televised trial outside the Cairo police academy where it was taking place.

Ahmed Amer, 30, a water company employee watching the proceedings from outside the court said, "I don't believe this ... to see a president being tried ... I never imagined it. I am so happy, I feel tomorrow will be better and that the next president knows what could happen to him if he goes against his people."

Ali Abdullah, a grocery store owner in Sharm e-Sheikh said, "I used to oppose the revolution at first. I criticized the youth in Tahrir and those who protested. But seeing that their efforts have finally brought this pharaoh to court, I must say that I salute the revolution and the youth of Egypt."

Pro-Mubarak protesters outside the court chanted, "Oh Mubarak hold your head high," and, "We will demolish the prison and burn it down, if Hosni Mubarak is sentenced."

Mubarak to remain in Cairo hospital during trial

After his first court session ends, Hosni Mubarak will stay in a hospital in Cairo, Egypt's state news agency MENA said on Wednesday.

Mubarak had been detained in a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm e-Sheikh since April after he suffered health problems during initial questioning.

The former president will remain in a hospital inside the Police Academy complex, where he is now being tried, MENA said quoting an official source.

Speculation had swirled until hours before the start of the trial about whether the 83-year-old, hospitalized in the Red Sea resort since April, would turn up to face charges of conspiring over the killing of demonstrators.

Mubarak's trial is unprecedented. He was forced out of office by his people and is being held to account. Tunisian President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, the first Arab leader to be ousted in the Arab Spring, was tried in absentia and is in Saudi Arabia.

Security was tightened in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Police and military officers in riot gear stood there, with dozens of police trucks and a few army armored personnel trucks.

Many Egyptians see his illness as a ploy so ruling generals can avoid publicly humiliating the war veteran and ex-president who ran Egypt, the Arab world's most populous nation, for 30 years until he was driven out on Feb. 11.

If convicted, Mubarak could face the death penalty. In his only public comments since stepping down, he vowed in April to clear his name and that of his family of accusations of corruption.

"If you feel sympathy for any dictator broken and standing in a cage, remember him when he was unjust on the throne," Marian wrote on Twitter, using the website that became a valuable tool in rallying the masses during the 18-day uprising.

The cage stands in a hall that can seat hundreds of people in the police academy on the outskirts of Cairo, the same location where two days before protests erupted on Jan. 25 Mubarak praised the work of the police in keeping Egypt secure.

Police used live ammunition, rubber bullets and teargas on protesters in Cairo and other cities. In Suez, an effigy of Mubarak hangs from a lamppost near the police station that was gutted by fire during street battles that raged there.

Also standing trial are Mubarak's two sons Gamal, a banker-turned-politician once seen as being groomed for top office, and Alaa, who had business interests. Alongside them is former interior minister Habib al-Adli, one of the most reviled members of Mubarak's cabinet, and six senior officers.

A business executive and Mubarak confidant, Hussein Salem, is being tried in absentia.

Charges range from conspiring in the killing of protesters to abusing power to amass wealth.

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 Egyptians blame Mubarak for economic policies that they say filled the pockets of the rich while many of the nation's 80 million people scrabbled in squalor to feed their families. They are also angry at his repression of any opposition to his rule.

Yet some are reluctant to see a man who was a bomber pilot and then leader of the air force in the 1973 war with Israel put in the dock.

Activist and director Mohamed Diab wrote on Twitter that the trial was "likely to cause a big rift, just like after his second speech. Imagine Mubarak with white hair, weeping and collapsing in court".

Mubarak, who dyed his hair as he aged in office, had won over some Egyptians with his final speeches that focused on what he described as a lifetime of service. Others were angered by what they saw as his paternalistic and patronizing style.

When the army finally stepped in to take control and he was flown off to internal exile in Sharm e-Sheikh, the streets of the capital and other cities erupted into cheers.

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