Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak (Photo: Reuters)
Egypt's hospitalised former President Hosni Mubarak, who is due to stand trial next week over the killing of protesters, is weak and refusing solid food, the official news agency MENA reported on Tuesday.
The statement about Mubarak's condition followed reports that he had died. The condition of the 83-year-old former leader has been a frequent subject for speculation. Many Egyptians see his illness as a ploy so he can avoid trial.
Mubarak, toppled in February by a popular uprising, has been in hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April when he was first questioned by the authorities. He has been charged with involvement in the killing of protesters and abuse of power and is due to stand trial on 3 August.
A Cairo court is handling the case but judicial and security sources told Reuters this month that the trial could take place in Sharm el-Sheikh. There has been no official statement so far suggesting the trial would be moved.
Mubarak "is completely refusing to eat food but consumes some liquids and juice only. He lost a lot of weight and suffers weakness and severe infirmity," MENA quoted Mohamed Fathallah, head of the hospital where Mubarak is being treated, as saying.
The report also quoted a medical source as saying medical supervisors would decide in the next few hours whether to put him on a drip or to continue normal feeding, saying his current food intake was "not sufficient to live."
Health Minister Amr Mohamed Helmi told Al Arabiya satellite channel that Mubarak remained in poor health.
Protesters have accused the army council now ruling Egypt of dragging its feet over the trial of their former commander-in-chief. They say the generals do not want to publicly humiliate the decorated war veteran whom they served for years.
A court ordered on Monday that the case of former interior minister Habib El-Adly and his aides be joined with those of Mubarak and his sons, as the charges were the same.