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Mubarak trial location switched

Hosni Mubarak's trial on charges he ordered the killing of protesters during Egypt's uprising will be held at a police academy on Cairo's outskirts instead of a convention centre in the heart of the capital, the head of Cairo's appeals court said.

The change appears to be linked to concerns over security during the ousted leader's trial, which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday and is sure to draw a large audience.

The 83-year-old ex-president is to stand trial alongside his security chief and six other senior security officials facing the same charges stemming from the crackdown that killed hundreds but failed to stop the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak from power on February 11.

Mubarak's two sons are also expected to appear in court on corruption charges. A business associate will be tried in absentia.

Keeping order during the trial is a top concern. Protests have escalated recently as Egyptians demand faster changes and the prosecution of Mubarak and former regime officials from the military leaders who have taken temporary control of the country.

In recent days, violence has also flared in Egypt's desert Sinai Peninsula, a restive area of the country that has grown more so since Mubarak's overthrow. On Saturday, gunmen detonated a bomb at an empty terminal along Egypt's natural gas pipeline to Israel.

That attack followed more than six hours of clashes overnight between Islamic militants and security forces in the nearby city of el Arish that killed six people, including a military officer, a policeman and a teenager.

The police academy is located in New Cairo, a district on the capital's eastern edges that is not as heavily populated as the area around the convention centre.

The change in venue was announced by Judge El-Sayed Abdel-aziz Omar, who according to law is in charge of deciding the trial location.

Assistant Justice Minister Mohammed Munie told the state-run Mena news agency that the trial will be held in an auditorium at the academy that can hold up to 600 people.

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