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Mubarak back in court over protester deaths

Mubarak back in court over protester deaths
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First Published: Wed, Sep 07 2011. 03 07 PM IST
Updated: Wed, Sep 07 2011. 03 07 PM IST
Cairo: An Egyptian court trying Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters who ousted him convened on Wednesday to hear more testimonies after police witnesses suggested this week that neither he nor his interior minister gave orders to shoot.
Mubarak, who has been in hospital since April and attended all three court sessions on a stretcher, arrived by helicopter, state TV said. Cameras have been barred in court.
Egyptians who helped oust the 83-year-old Mubarak after 30 years in power have regularly gathered at the court on the outskirts of Cairo demanding swift justice for about 850 people killed in the uprising.
Opponents of Mubarak and lawyers of the families of victims have voiced frustration with the witnesses at Monday’s session, attended by Mubarak lying on a hospital trolley in the defendant’s cage.
“My friend dropped dead in Tahrir Square right next to me. He was shot in the head by the police,” said Rabia al-Sheikh outside the court. “Why don’t they let us inside to testify. Why are they calling on police to testify and not the people?”
The 83-year-old Mubarak, the first Arab head of state to be tried in person since unrest erupted across the Middle East this year, is charged with conspiring to kill protesters and “inciting” some officers to use live ammunition.
Lawyers said the court could hear three more witnesses on Wednesday, depending on the time each took.
About 20 protesters shouted abuse at Mubarak and police, some chanting “Hosni Mubarak is a thief”. They say police used tear gas, rubber bullets and live ammunition to try to quash the uprising.
There was a heavy police presence outside the court to prevent scuffles with Mubarak’s supporters.
Lawyers representing families of victims said the police witnesses on Monday give different answers before the trial.
“They have changed the testimonies they previously gave to the prosecution which makes them unreliable,” Amir Salem said.
A top police officer told the court on Monday he was not aware of any order to fire on protesters although he said police were given live ammunition to protect the Interior Ministry.
General Hussein Saeed Mohamed Moussa, in charge of communications for state security, said he believed the decision to issue arms was taken by a senior police officer, Ahmed Ramzi, who is on trial alongside Mubarak and former interior minister Habib al-Adli.
Two other police witnesses said they were told to exercise “self restraint” during the uprising.
Also standing trial alongside the former president and former interior minister are Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal, and six police officers, including Ramzi.
Egypt’s justice minister agreed to let five Kuwaiti lawyers join the Mubarak defence team, the state news agency MENA said.
The Kuwaiti lawyers, who were not allowed into the last session, have said their decision to volunteer for Mubarak’s defence was in recognition for his role in supporting a US led coalition that drove Iraqi forces out of the Gulf Arab state in 1991.
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First Published: Wed, Sep 07 2011. 03 07 PM IST
More Topics: Egypt | Hosni Mubarak | Trail | Court | Tahrir Square |