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Mubarak trial postponed to December

The trial of Egypt's ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, who is accused of complicity in the killing of more than 800 protesters this year, has been adjourned until December 28.

Mr Mubarak's trial began nearly three months ago and the lengthy adjournment is certain to frustrate leaders of the anti-Mubarak protest movement who want to see the former leader and his co-defendants - his two sons, security chief and six top police officers - brought swiftly to justice.

Mr Mubarak stepped down in February after a popular uprising. Reformers are frustrated by what they see as the slow progress by Egypt's military rulers to liberalise the system.

The adjournment was meant to allow time for another court to rule on a request by lawyers for the victims to remove the three-judge panel in Mr Mubarak's trial. That ruling is expected on November 3.

Mr Mubarak, his two sons, former security chief and the six police officers sat in the defendants' cage for a 10-minute hearing on Sunday. If convicted, he could face the death penalty. Mr Mubarak and his sons also face corruption charges.

Meanwhile, two prominent activists have been summoned for questioning by military prosecutors for their alleged role in inciting clashes this month in which 27 people, most of them Christians, were killed and hundreds wounded.

The two refused to answer the prosecutors' questions on grounds that the military was involved in the violence and therefore could not be impartial, according to human rights lawyer Gamal Eid.

Alaa Abdel-Fattah was ordered to be held in custody for 15 days, while Bahaa Saber was released. The two are suspected of inciting the violence and of damaging military property.

The questioning of the two set social networks abuzz with comments by activists denouncing the move and calling for the ousting of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the body of top military officers that took over from Mr Mubarak.

The October 9 violence was the deadliest since the military took over and was a stark contrast to the idealistic sense of Muslim-Christian unity that flourished during the anti-Mubarak uprising.

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