Egypt’s Mubarak trial postponed another week

An Egyptian man holds a pair of scales and a noose as he protests against former President Hosni Mubarak ouside the Police Accademy where his trial is being held on the outskirts of Cairo on December 28, 2011 (AFP Photo / Filippo MONTEFORTE)
The trial of Egypt’s ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, which resumed on Wednesday after a three-month break, has been postponed again until Monday.

­Mubarak is charged with abuse and the killing of some 850 protesters during the popular uprising, which overthrew him in February 2011, and may face the death penalty if convicted.

The ailing ex-president, aged 83, was taken to Wednesday proceedings at the Police Academy in an ambulance and was wheeled out on a hospital gurney. His lawyer, Farid al-Deed, says Mubarak is suffering from stomach cancer. Other reports suggest it is heart disease.

Mubarak was met by a group of his supporters, but also by demonstrators and families of people killed in the uprising, who chanted “The trial is a sham and the gang still rules!

We removed Mubarak, we got Hussein. To hell with both of them,” shouted the angry demonstrators as quoted by Agence France Presse.

The proceeding last only a few hours. In the courtroom, lawyers for the families of the killed protesters urged for Army Chief-of-Staff Sami Anan to be summoned as a key witness.

Anan, who is also deputy head of Egypt’s ruling military council, was to give his testimony back in September, but this was delayed by prosecutors’ motion against the presiding judge, Ahmed Refaat. Prosecutors said Refaat was biased in defendants’ favor so the judge must be replaced. Egypt’s Court of Appeals rejected the motion on December 7.

Mubarak’s lawyers insist that killings of protesters continued even after he stepped down: over 100 people died in clashes between demonstrators and security forces that followed the ousting.

Minister of Defense and Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, Hussein Tantawi, who now de facto rules Egypt, also repeatedly told journalists after proceedings that Mubarak had never ordered the shooting of demonstrators.

The prosecutors’ case now depends on accounts of members of the ex-president’s inner circle, including Anan, Tantawi and ex-spy chief Omar Suleiman, who was appointed vice president by Mubarak during the uprising. The final verdict is expected in March.

Mubarak has been under arrest since April. The trial began on August 3 with the first proceeding broadcast live on television. But when it came to high profiled witnesses, as Field Marshal Tantawi, to testify, the judge closed the proceedings to media.

The ousted leader, who ruled the country for 40 years, is being tried together with the ex-minister of interior, Habib El-Adly, and six senior former security officials. Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, also face corruption charges.