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Egypt's military ruler to testify

The judge in the trial of Hosni Mubarak has summoned the top brass in Egypt's new ruling military council and his former vice president to testify in closed sessions on the ousted leader's role in putting down protests against his rule.

Both the defence and prosecution in the case against Mubarak and six of his top security chiefs sought the testimony of Field Marshal Mohammed Tantawi, who was Mubarak's defence minister and is now the military ruler.

Also summoned were the military chief of staff Sami Anan and Omar Suleiman, whom Mubarak appointed as his vice president during the uprising and was his powerful intelligence chief for nearly two decades.

Many Egyptians believe that their testimony is key in determining whether Mubarak ordered the use of lethal force against the uprising.

But the judge's order that the sessions, which will run from Sunday through until Thursday, be closed to the media and public ensures that key details of those meetings will remain secret.

Mubarak, his former interior minister Habib el-Adly and six other top security officials are charged with complicity in the killing of protesters, a charge that carries a potential death penalty.

The judge's decision came in a stormy session during which a prosecution witness was detained on suspicion of perjury - but then quickly acquitted by the court.

The witness, Captain Mohammed Abdel-Hakim, was the latest in a string of police officers that the prosecution has called to testify, expecting they would confirm that orders were issued for security forces to use live ammunition against the anti-Mubarak crowds in the streets.

But Capt Abdel-Hakim denied in the court that any live ammunition was provided to riot police or that he knew of any orders to shoot at protesters.

Prosecutors immediately charged Capt Abdel-Hakim with perjury and the judge ordered him detained, but then several hours later it was announced that he had been acquitted and freed, with no explanation.


From Belfast Telegraph