Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 23 August 2014

Mubarak trial resumes in Egypt

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is wheeled into a court in Cairo (AP)

The trial of Hosni Mubarak has resumed in Egypt amid speculation that the recent acquittal of policemen tried for killing protesters could be a prelude to the dismissal of charges against the ousted leader.

Mubarak faces charges of complicity in the killing of more than 800 protesters during last year's uprising that toppled his 29-year regime.

The ailing 83-year-old was brought by helicopter to the Cairo court from a hospital, where he is being held in custody. He was taken into the defendants' cage on a gurney, wearing dark glasses and covered by a green blanket.

Another Cairo court on Thursday acquitted five policemen of charges of killing five protesters during the January 25 to February 11 uprising in the capital's el-Sayedah Zeinab area. The court said three of the defendants were not at the site of the killings while the other two fired against protesters in self-defence.

The ruling angered the families of the victims. Activists demanded that killers be brought to justice and complained similar cases are languishing in courts in several Egyptian cities.

On trial with Mubarak are his two sons - Gamal, his one-time heir apparent, and Alaa - along with his former security chief and six top police commanders. The Mubaraks face additional corruption charges in the same case.

The trial began on August 3 but has become bogged down in procedural matters, including a demand by lawyers for the victims that the presiding judge, Ahmed Rifaat, be removed. That request alone took a separate court about three months to rule on.

The acquittal of the police officers in el-Sayedah Zeinab and the relatively long time the Mubarak trial is taking before starting to deal with the core of the charges has led many activists to brand the proceedings a farce, organised by the generals who took power when the leader was ousted.

They are led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's defence minister for the last 20 years he spent in office.

The Mubaraks were arrested in April, two months after the end of the regime. Activists believe this was long enough for the three to conceal evidence.

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