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Egypt’s military ruler summoned in Mubarak trial

News4u - News Desk : The chief judge in the criminal trial of Hosni Mubarak has summoned high-profile witnesses, including Egypt’s military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, to testify in court, a move which could bare the interim regime’s intentions on the fate of the ousted President.

 

 

The judge, Ahmed Refaat, set 11th September as the date for Tantawi to appear in the court, Pan-Arab news channel Al-Arabia reported.

 

Refaat also summoned the Army’s Chief of Staff Sami Anan; Omar Suleiman, Mubarak’s former intelligence chief who was also Vice President for a brief period, and Interior Minister Mansur al-Essawy.

 

Suleiman had disappeared from public view after mid-February when he made the televised announcement that Mubarak was surrendering power.

 

But in an extraordinary step, the judge stipulated that the three key men in Egypt would testify under the strictest secrecy.

 

Not only did he order a closed session for their testimony, he also placed news organisations under strict constraints about what they could report.

 

The summoning of the military junta troika, the New York Times reported from Cairo, had sharpened doubts about whether the court is acting independently or cooperating with the ousted President’s former allies.

 

The paper said the trial had almost degenerated into a soap opera, opening with dramatic images of the former President lying on a gurney behind bars in the prisoner’s dock and then descending into a confusion of questionable testimony, an apparent reference to change of testimony by a police witness.

 

Mubarak is being tried on charges of corruption and conspiring to order the killing of unarmed demonstrators in his final days in power.

 

The three witnesses including Tantawi, who is virtually de-facto President of the country, may prove crucial for the fallen President as they were within Mubarak’s inner circle at that time.

 

Al-Arabiya said it was not clear whether the two officers, Field Marshal Tantawi and General Anan, had volunteered to testify.

 

Anan will give evidence on Monday and Omar Suleiman on Tuesday behind closed doors, Judge Ahmed Refaat said.

 

Current Interior Minister Mansur al-Essawi and his predecessor Mahmud Wagdi will testify on 14th September and 15 respectively, he added.

 

Refaat said he had decided to hear the high-profile witnesses in camera for reasons of “national security.”

 

Lawyers acting for the families of those killed during the popular uprising that forced Mubarak out of power in February had repeatedly requested that the court hear the testimony of the five.

 

 

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Mubarak case suffers blow on prosecution witnesses

News4u - News Desk : The case against Hosni Mubarak has suffered a blow after top police officers told a trial court here that orders to open fire on anti-regime protesters were not given by the fallen Egyptian strongman but by the chief of anti-riot forces.The court has adjourned till September 7 the trial after several witnesses testified for the first time in the trial of the ousted president yesterday.Top police general Hussein Saeed Mursi and three other key witness made crucial depositions in the court.The court heard one witness pointing a finger of blame at the chief of anti-riot forces for dozens of deaths in Egypt”s revolution.Yesterday”s session was the third since the trial opened on August 3.The court is investigating whether the orders to fire on the crowds were solely given by the interior ministry or the president.Judge Ahmed Refaat, the presiding judge in the trial of Mubarak, ordered the trial be adjourned to Wednesday to hear the testimonies of prosecution witnesses.Four police officers took the witness stand, including Mursi who headed the anti-riot police”s communications department at the time of the uprising.Mursi said, that General Ahmed Ramzi, head of anti-riot forces, gave “clear instructions to protect the interior ministry and deal with the demonstrators with automatic weapons.” PTI

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Mubarak to face trial for second time

News4u - News Desk : Toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is set to stand trial for the second time on Monday on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of pro-democracy protesters.

After the first session on 3rdAugust, a new board of advocates volunteered to present the case for the plaintiffs - the families of the people killed and injured during the nationwide revolt in February, that ousted Mubarak’s three-decade-old regime.

The trial of Egypt’s former interior minister Habib Al-Adil, also accused of ordering firing on protesters, and six of his deputies resumed under tight security in Cairo on Sunday.

“Four groups are in conflict in the court room and the panel of judges with have the final say,” an advocate associated with the trial, said.

The session, however, will not be aired live because it would be legally improper to do so, he said.

In the first session of the trial, Mubarak was flown in from the Red Sea resort town of Sharam el-Sheikh, where he is under arrest in a hospital, by a helicopter and brought to the courtroom on a stretcher with an intravenous drip.

Besides the killing of protesters during the massive uprising, the 83-year-old former strongman has been charged with involvement in corruption and abuse of power. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.

 

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Mubarak trial adjourned till Sept 5, no more live telecast

News4u - News Desk : The historic trial of Egypt’s fallen president Hosni Mubarak was on Monday adjourned till September 5 after the ailing former strongman returned to court wheeled on a stretcher to answer charges of ordering the killing of over 800 anti-regime protesters, as his followers and opponents scuffled in streets outside.

 

In another dramatic day at the trial that has gripped the Arab world, the court ruled that the proceedings will no longer be telecast live.

Judge Ahmed Refaat also decided to merge Mubarak’s trial will now be merged with that of ex-interior minister Habib al-Adli, a step welcomed by lawyers for the families of protesters killed in the uprising.

Mubarak, 83, faces death penalty if found guilty of ordering the killing of around 800 pro-democracy protesters.

He is also facing corruption charges along with his sons Alaa and Gamal, both of whom were also present in the case in prison uniform.

As the toppled leader made his second appearance in court, scuffles broke out outside the court house between the former president’s supporters and antagonists.

“Hosni Mubarak is not Saddam” and “He is Egyptian until death” read the placards as a number of his supporters gathered outside the court guarded by hundreds of riot policemen.

Mubarak, wearing a navy blue sports sweater, appeared in a caged defendant’s box and answered “present” when trial judge Refaat called his name.

He was earlier flown in to the court in a military helicopter from a Cairo hospital.

He was also seen exchanging words with his sons during the proceedings

The proceedings were often unruly and chaotic as a large number of prosecution lawyers raised their points.

The judge ordered the merger of the trials of Mubarak and al Adli, and announced that live TV coverage would end “in the interest of the public” while adjourning the case to September 5.

The trial of Adli on charges of killing nearly 800 demonstrators during the uprising had resumed yesterday.

He has already been sentenced to 12 years in prison for money-laundering.

Defence lawyers have also demanded that Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who was Mubarak’s defence minister for two decades, and now leads the military council, testify over the former president’s role in suppressing the uprising.

Mubarak was ousted in a massive uprising against his 30 year long regime in February following which the military took up the role of a caretaker government to make way for democratic elections in the country.

 

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Egypt’s ex-president Mubarak to return to court for trial

News4u - News Desk : CAIRO: Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak returns to court on Monday to face charges of killing protesters, in a hearing that could decide if the head of the ruling military council will take the stand as a witness.

Defence lawyers say that any testimony by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Mubarak’s role in trying to suppress the 18-day uprising, in which more than 800 people were killed, could decide the fate of the 83-year-old.

Tantawi, who was defence minister for two decades under Mubarak, heads the military council that took power when Mubarak was ousted on Feb 11 by the mass protests.

Mubarak, accused of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters, went on trial on Aug 3 in a case that has gripped the Arab world, where leaders rule for life and are seldom held to account.

The first Arab head of state to stand trial in person since popular uprisings swept the Middle East, the former air force commander faces charges that could carry the death penalty.

Hundreds of riot police stood guard outside the Cairo courthouse where the trial was to resume, cordoning it off on Monday morning after a crowd gathered to show their support for the deposed former president.

“He is Egyptian until death” and “Hosni Mubarak is not Saddam,” chanted the throng, referring to Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein who was put on trial after a US-led invasion and executed in 2006.

“I am opposed to him being inside a cage. Why can’t he sit on a chair? This is the law of Tahrir, not the rule of law,” said Fekry, a 47-year-old Mubarak supporter.

On the first day of his trial, Mubarak appeared on a hospital bed, behind the bars of a courtroom cage with his sons, Gamal and Alaa, who will also appear again on Monday.

About 850 people were killed during the uprising and over 6,000 were wounded when security forces fired live rounds, rubber bullets and used water cannon and batons against the protesters.

The prosecutor accuses Mubarak of authorising the use of the live ammunition to quell the protests. Mubarak denied all accusations during the opening session, which was aired live and counted as his first public appearance since Feb. 11.

Families

In the first court session, defence lawyers asked for Tantawi, former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and about 1,600 others to testify as witnesses.

Defence lawyers said the accounts would be vital for either incriminating or exonerating Mubarak from involvement in killing protesters.

“Tantawi’s testimony would help the court determine whether Mubarak gave orders to interior minister Habib al-Adli to fire at protesters or whether Adli was acting independently,” one member of the defence team, who asked not to be named, said.

A judge on Sunday set the next hearing for Adli and six of his lieutenants for Sept 5.

Lawyers for the families of those killed have also demanded Tantawi testify in the trial.

“It is important for the court to meet the requests of the defence team, especially the request to hear the accounts of Field Marshal Tantawi in court to determine whether Mubarak asked him to confront and fire at protesters or not,” the lawyer said.

“The defence team sees Tantawi as a compurgator, or a witness whose testimony would exonerate Mubarak. The plaintiffs’ lawyers, however, expect him to testify that he received orders to fire, which is necessary to convict Mubarak,” another lawyer handling the case said.

Essam Soltan, one of the plaintiffs’ lawyers, said Judge Ahmed Refaat would ask lawyers to justify their request to summon Tantawi to testify before ruling on it.

The cases of the defendants are interlinked and each could accuse his superior of giving the orders to fire, thus weakening the case against Mubarak, Soltan said.

The military said officers called in by the judge to give their testimony would attend. But a judicial source said that even if Tantawi were asked to testify, his testimony would come later in the trial to shield the army from taking the heat in the controversial case.

Tantawi’s military council has promised a transition to democracy in the Arab world’s most populous country — a process far from complete. REUTERS

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Mubarak set for trial on charges of graft and killings

News4u - News Desk : Cairo Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is set to stand trial on Wednesday on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of pro-democracy protesters at a massive uprising that toppled his regime in February.Egyptian authorities said the 83-year-old former strongman is healthy enough to travel to Cairo, where security has been beefed up in wake of the much-awaited trial.

The trial will include Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, former interior minister Habib al-Adly and his six assistants.

“Mubarak can travel to stand trial in Cairo and the Cabinet would coordinate with the Health and Interior ministries to transport him,” Egyptian Health Minister Amr Helmy said.

The Health Ministry will ensure that a medical team and healthcare are provided for Mubarak during the trip, but the Interior Ministry is responsible for other necessary procedures, Helmy said.

Mubarak, who ruled with an iron fist for nearly three decades, is under arrest in a hospital in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh since April, where he receives treatment for his heart problem.

Helmy said Mubarak’s health condition had changed little recently and he suffers from depression and maintains a low appetite.

According to news reports, more than 1,000 security personnel will be deployed around the Cairo Police Academy, where the trial is set to take place, and efforts have been made to ensure spectators in the court don’t get close enough to the defendants’ case to avoid any agitation.

Besides the killing of protesters at the nationwide revolt in February, Mubarak has been charged with involvement in corruption and abuse of power. If found guilty of the murder charge, he could be executed.

The trial will be televised live on state television. PTI

 

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Mubarak appears in Cairo court; pleads not guilty

News4u - News Desk : Egypt’s once all-powerful President Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday appeared a frail figure as he was wheeled into a courtroom on a stretcher to face trial on charges of corruption and killing protesters, pleading not guilty.

 

If convicted, the 83-year-old former strongman, who was airlifted from a Sharm El-Sheikh hospital to Cairo, could face the death penalty.

“All these charges, I deny them completely,” an ashen- faced Mubarak told the court as his historic trial got underway amidst violent clashes and scuffles between his supporters and opponents outside the special courtroom.

Mubarak, looking pale and dressed in white, pleaded innocent from a metal wired mesh cage to charges of graft and unlawful killings of anti-regime protesters during the revolution that forced him out of power.

His two sons Alaa and Gamal, who were in the dock beside him, also pleaded not guilty of corruption charges as presiding Judge Ahmed Refaat adjourned the hearing till August 15 and said the former president would stay in a Cairo hospital until then.

He, thus, became the first Arab ruler in modern times to be put in the dock. His trial has rattled Arab rulers — Monarchs and Presidents — who have long held sway over most of the Muslim nations in the region.

The image of the man, who held absolute power in Egypt for more than three decades, in a cage was beamed live all over the country, thrilling thousands who took to the streets to overthrow him, but must have chilled other Arab rulers facing similar public uprisings.

The prosecutors said Mubarak “had the intention to kill” peaceful protesters during a revolt that ousted him on February 11. He was also accused of allowing former interior minister Habib-al-Adil to use live ammunition on protesters.

Mubarak’s lawyers asked for defence minister Field Marshall Mohammad Hussain Tantawi to be summoned as a witness in the trial. The deposed leader was flown into Cairo to face trial for conspiring to kill protesters and corruption, five months after a popular uprising ousted him from absolute power.

As Mubarak was wheeled into the courtroom, hundreds of his supporters and opponents scuffled outside. About 50 pro-Mubarak supporters, holding his giant photograph afloat, declared “we will burn the prison, if they convict Mubarak”, while his opponents, out in more larger numbers, shouted back “death for dictator”.

The police backed by armoured cars kept the clashing public far away from the courtroom.

The state television showed him lying on a hospital bed inside a mesh cage in the Cairo courtroom being constantly attended by his two sons who were in prison cloths.

The official death toll in the revolution has been put at 846 in addition to another 1400 who lost their eyes as a result of being hit by rubber bullet.

In a separate case that will also be reviewed, Mubarak along with his two sons and fugitive businessman Hussen Salem are facing charges of corruption and amassing wealth illegally as well as selling natural gas to Israel at a price much lower than the international one.

Mubarak, who ruled with an iron fist for nearly three decades, is under arrest in a hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh since April, where he receives treatment for a heart condition.

 

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Mubarak’s Aug 3 trial to be held in Cairo, protesters sceptical

News4u - News Desk : CAIRO: The trial of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for charges that include ordering the killing of protesters will take place at Cairo’s Police Academy on Wednesday Aug 3, the state news agency MENA said on Saturday.

A source close to Mubarak had said on Thursday his lawyer would tell the court in Cairo that Mubarak, who has been in hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April, was too sick to attend the session in person.

Many Egyptians view Mubarak’s illness as a ploy used by the ruling military council — which took over after Mubarak’s ouster in February — to avoid publicly humiliating their former commander-in-chief.

Demonstrators camped in Tahrir Square on Saturday said they were sceptical Mubarak would show up in Cairo on Wednesday.

The demonstrators, around 150 in total, continued their sit-ins in tents set up in the square despite a large Friday rally that was held to send a united message to the ruling army about reform but from which dozens of political parties and movements withdrew, saying it was hijacked by Islamists.

Prime among the demonstrators’ demands is a swift and fair trial for Mubarak, who is charged with conspiring with former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli in attempting to kill peaceful demonstrators during the 18-day uprising that ousted him. If convicted, the crime could carry the death penalty.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the ruling military council, has decided to form a committee to speed up compensations for the families of protesters who were killed or injured during the uprising, MENA said on Saturday.

The committee will increase monetary compensation for families of dead protesters to 30,000 Egyptian pounds ($5,000) for each martyr from 5,000 pounds, MENA said on Saturday.

Compensations for the families of injured protesters will also be increased based on the degree of injury, MENA said.

Judicial sources had previously said Mubarak’s trial over the killing of protesters might be moved to Sharm el-Sheikh.

An official at the hospital where he is staying said on Saturday Mubarak’s condition was “relatively stable” but that he suffered from severe depression and refused to eat for prolonged periods and refused to deal with psychiatrists, MENA reported.

Protesters camped for weeks in Cairo’s Tahrir Square have demanded that Mubarak be treated like everyone else convicted of a crime and that his trial be held in Cairo, though many have expressed doubts this would take place.

“What we’re waiting for is not the same as what we’re expecting,” said Ahmed Moawad, a member of April 6 Movement who was in Tahrir on Saturday.

“I’m waiting for (Mubarak’s) trial to take place in Cairo,” said Moawad. “Let’s say I was wrongly arrested for something … and (that I was) psychologically distressed. Would they get me a psychiatrist and send me to a seven-star resort? … There has to be justice in dealing with all Egyptian citizens.”

“We see that sit-ins are the optimal way to achieve (our) goals given the clear foot-dragging … by the cabinet and the military council,” Moawad said.

Other demonstrators in Tahrir said they were sure Mubarak’s trial would be indefinitely delayed.

“We can’t even know if there will be a real trial or whether at the last minute we’ll be told Mubarak isn’t feeling well and that the trial will be delayed. We all know the trial will be delayed,” said Islam Ahmed, a 23-year-old protester who has been camped in Tahrir since July 8.

Mubarak’s two sons, detained in a Cairo prison on various charges including graft, will also be tried on Aug. 3 at the police academy, alongside Adli and six of his top aides, MENA cited the head ofCairo’s Appeals Court as saying on Saturday.

Businessman Hussein Salem, a close confidant of Mubarak who was arrested on an international warrant and is currently hospitalised in Spain, will also stand trial on the same day at the academy, MENA said. Salem is charged with crimes that include squandering public funds. REUTERS

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Mubarak refusing to eat food as his trial approaches

News4u - News Desk : CAIRO: To go on trial next week on charges that could carry the death penalty, deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is refusing to eat solid food in jail and is suffering from “severe infirmity”, official news agency MENA reported.

It quoted Mohammed Fathallah, the head of the hospital in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El Sheik as saying that Mubarak was only partaking liquids and had lost weight.

Mubarak, 83, has been in hospital in the resort town, near his summer home, since he complained of heart pains when first interrogated after being detained on April 1.

“He completely abstains from food and intakes only some liquid and juices”, the doctor was quoted, adding that his condition was becoming “precarious”.

Mubarak is scheduled to stand trial on August 3 with his two sons and former interior minister Habib Al-Adil and six police commanders. A judge has ruled that Mubarak would face trial with Al-Adil on charges of police opening fire on protesters at the iconic Tahrir square.

The news report has intensified speculation that Mubarak’s illness could lead to postponement of his trial, which might trigger a new wave of protests on the streets of Cairo.

The protesters who led the February 11 uprising leading to the downfall of Mubarak are back in strength at the Tahrir square, charging the ruling military council of delaying the trial and purge of Mubarak and his close aides.

New York Times quoting Arab sources reported that protesters were wary that military was reluctant to humiliate Mubarak further and prosecutors may be looking at excuses to postpone the trial.

The location of Mubarak’s trial has not been announced, but judicial sources say that it probably will be held at Sharm El Sheik.  PTI

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Mubarak refusing to eat food as his trial approaches

News4u - News Desk : CAIRO: To go on trial next week on charges that could carry the death penalty, deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is refusing to eat solid food in jail and is suffering from “severe infirmity”, official news agency MENA reported.

It quoted Mohammed Fathallah, the head of the hospital in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El Sheik as saying that Mubarak was only partaking liquids and had lost weight.

Mubarak, 83, has been in hospital in the resort town, near his summer home, since he complained of heart pains when first interrogated after being detained on April 1.

“He completely abstains from food and intakes only some liquid and juices”, the doctor was quoted, adding that his condition was becoming “precarious”.

Mubarak is scheduled to stand trial on August 3 with his two sons and former interior minister Habib Al-Adil and six police commanders. A judge has ruled that Mubarak would face trial with Al-Adil on charges of police opening fire on protesters at the iconic Tahrir square.

The news report has intensified speculation that Mubarak’s illness could lead to postponement of his trial, which might trigger a new wave of protests on the streets of Cairo.

The protesters who led the February 11 uprising leading to the downfall of Mubarak are back in strength at the Tahrir square, charging the ruling military council of delaying the trial and purge of Mubarak and his close aides.

New York Times quoting Arab sources reported that protesters were wary that military was reluctant to humiliate Mubarak further and prosecutors may be looking at excuses to postpone the trial.

The location of Mubarak’s trial has not been announced, but judicial sources say that it probably will be held at Sharm El Sheik. PTI

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