Cairo: The trial of Hosni Mubarak and others over their involvement in killing protesters will be held in Cairo next week, a senior official said on Thursday, ending talk it could be moved to a resort where the former president is hospitalized.
A source close to Mubarak said his poor health would prevent the 83-year-old moving from the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to attend the 3 August Cairo session in person.
His two sons, detained in a Cairo prison, will be tried at the same time.
Protesters who ousted Mubarak on 11 February have demanded the army council now ruling Egypt hold swift, public trials of the former president and others who they blame for killing about 850 people during the uprising.
Many Egyptians view Mubarak’s illness as a ploy used by the army council to avoid publicly humiliating their former commander-in-chief, who led the air force in Egypt’s 1973 war with Israel.
The official news agency said on Tuesday Mubarak was refusing to eat solid food and was weakened.
Mohamed Muniaa, deputy justice minister, told the official Middle East News Agency (MENA) a “final” decision had been taken to hold the trial of Mubarak, his two sons and others involved in the case in Cairo.
The trial will be held in a building in the grounds of a Cairo exhibition centre.
A source close to the president, who asked not to be identified, told Reuters:
“His health condition will not allow him to attend the first session and his lawyer will present the court with documents proving that Mubarak is unable to attend.”
Mubarak is charged with conspiring with former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli and some police officers in pre-meditated murder and attempting to kill peaceful demonstrators. If convicted, the crime could carry the death penalty.
He is charged with “inciting” some officers to use live fire on protesters and to run them over with vehicles to help keep him in office. He is also accused of using his position to secure wealth and privileges for himself and others.
Judicial sources had earlier said the trial might be moved to Sharm el-Sheikh and there had been widespread speculation in the media about where it would be held. Protesters demanded Mubarak be treated like anyone else charged with a crime.
“The court will convene in Cairo. If Mubarak is unable to attend, the court will not go to him,” Judge Ahmed Mekky, the deputy head of Egypt’s Appeal Court told Reuters, commenting on the announcement.
“The court may decide afterwards on how to proceed should Mubarak’s health remain too weak to arrive, but he is likely to eventually arrive in Cairo,” he added.
In criminal cases in Egypt, defendants have to stand in a cage inside the court. Many ministers have already been shown behind those bars, a scene unimaginable for Egyptians when Mubarak was in power and his allies were seen as above the law.
The former interior minister, much reviled for the brutal manner his police force sought to crush the uprising against Mubarak, has already been sentenced to 12 years in jail for corruption.
Alongside the ex-president and former minister, Mubarak’s two sons Alaa and Gamal will also stand trial charged with a range of crimes.
Gamal was once viewed as being groomed to succeed Mubarak. A businessmen, Hussein Salem, who is no longer in the country and six other senior police officials will be tried too.