Historic Mubarak trial underway in Cairo

Ahram Online, Wednesday 3 Aug 2011

As Mubarak's trial begins, lawyers complain main stakeholders have not been allowed in court and the ousted president's defence lawyer demands that he be tried separately

Mubarak trial
This combination image made from video taken from Egyptian State Television shows different scenes of 83-year-old Hosni Mubarak on a hospital bed inside a cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011 as his historic trial began on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters during the uprising that ousted him. The scene, shown live on Egypt's state TV, was Egyptians' first look at their former president since Feb. 10, the day before his fall when he gave a defiant speech refusing to resign. (AP Photo/Egyptian State TV)

The much anticipated trial of former Egyptian President Mubarak trial has begun early Wednesday morning.

Many Egyptians doubted till early this morning that Mubarak would ever appear in a court of justice.

However, contrary to the expectations of many, ousted president Hosni Mubarak has indeed appeared in court together with his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, former interior minister Habib El-Adly and six of his aides.

Millions of Egyptians are currently glued to Television screens at homes, workplaces and in coffee shops to follow the procedures of the trial of Egypt's former dictator, his sons, his friend Hussein Salem and former top ministry of interior officers.

Mubarak and co are accused of both conspiring to murder over 800 protesters during the 25 January uprising as well as being party to numerous financial improprieties.

Around 9am this morning, a helicopter carried Hosni Mubarak to his trial location at the Police Academy in Cairo. A little after 10am, Mubarak was brought into his cage in the court room on a hospital stretcher.

The three Mubaraks wore in the white outfit of the accused while El-Adly wore blue as he has previously been sentenced to 12 years of imprisonment while facing other accusations. The accused were seen behind the bars of a specially constructed cage in the courtroom.

Judge Ahmed Refaat, presiding over the Cairo Criminal Court, warned against any unnecessary interruptions and threatened to throw out any persons involved in interrupting the trial process, after which they would be sentenced to a 24-hour detention.

Lawyers defending the families of martyrs complained to the judge that many of them have not been allowed to attend the trial despite being the main stakeholders in the case. The judge said they will be granted access in the future.

Farid El-Deeb, the defending lawyer of ousted president Mubarak and the former minister of interior demanded that the two be tried separately.

El-Deeb submitted a document to court arguing that trying the duo together is invalid.

Lawyers defending El-Adly also asked that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt’s ruling military council, be summoned as a witness, among others.

The prosecusion accused  of deliberately killing protestors during Egypt's revolution.He is also accused of supervising police officers as they fired shots meant to kill and used cars to drive over protesters.

Mubarak is accused with former interior minister Habib El-Adly of intentionally killing protestors in several of Egypt’s governorates for the purpose of protecting his regime.

Mubarak and his sons are accused of illegally receiving from businessman Hussein Salem five villas and 2 million metres of land in Sharm El-Sheikh.

Mubarak is also accused of cooperating with former minister of petroleum Sameh Fahmy to export gas to Israel at below market levels through a company Salem owned a majority of stocks in.

In front of the Police Academy, where the trial is taking place, clashes have been sporadically erupting between pro-Mubarak supporters and protesters. About 500 pro-Mubarak supporters and another 500 anti-Mubarak protesters, many of them families of martyrs and revolutionaries, have been involved in fights since 7am.

Hundreds of State Security Forces stationed in front of the academy have used force in an attempt to stop violence between the crowds.

Army tanks are stationed in front of the gate, where various ambulance cars are parked, ready to treat the injured.

Mubarak arrived at the Police Academy in Cairo by helicopter at 9am this morning. A special ambulance quickly whisked the former president toward the building designated for the trial procedures.

The ousted president has been residing in Sharm El-Sheikh International Hospital since the prosecutor general put him under house arrest last April. This is the first time he has returned to Cairo since he was forced to step down from power on 11 February.


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