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Mubarak trial resumes - amid speculation charges could be dropped

The trial of the former Egyptian president may be abandoned, after policemen were acquitted of similar charges.

Supporters of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak hold a rally outside a Cairo courthouse where Mubarak's trial resumed today.
Supporters of former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak hold a rally outside a Cairo courthouse where Mubarak's trial resumed today.
Image: Ahmed Ali/AP

THE TRIAL OF the former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak is resuming in Cairo today – amid speculation that charges may be dismissed against him.

The 83-year-old – who remains bedridden, and who was this morning brought to court by helicopter – faces charges of complicity in the death killing of over 800 people who took part in last year’s protests that ended his 29-year tenure as president.

Speculation is growing, however, that the a recent acquittal of some policemen – who were to be tried for killing protesters – could see prosecutors admit defeat and drop the case against the ousted leader.

A Cairo court acquitted the five policemen on charges of killing five protesters during last year’s uprising in the capital’s district of el-Sayedah Zeinab.

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

Mubarak’s two sons – Gamal, his one-time heir apparent, and Alaa – along with the ousted leader’s former security chief and six top police commanders are all also standing trial.

The Mubaraks face additional corruption charges in the same case.

The trial began in August but has been 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 even starting to deal with the core of the charges against him have led many activists to brand the proceedings a farce, organised by the generals who took over power when the longtime leader was ousted.

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

The activists believe the generals remain beholden to the Mubarak regime, and only placed the former president and his two sons under arrest after mounting pressure by protesters.

The Mubaraks were arrested in April, two months after the ouster of the regime. Activists believe this was long enough for the three to conceal evidence of their alleged involvement in either the killings or corruption.

Additional reporting by AP

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Gavan Reilly

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