Cairo: Egyptian demonstrators scuffled with police outside the court where the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak resumed on Monday, when senior policemen were due to give the first witness testimony.
Mubarak, in hospital since April with heart problems and other reported ailments, was wheeled on a gurney into a metal defendants’ cage in the court, at the Cairo Police Academy.
Judge Ahmed Refaat has banned live television coverage of the trial after the first two sessions when Egyptians watched riveted as their 83-year-old former leader lay behind bars.
Lawyers applauded the judge’s decision, saying it would prevent witnesses being influenced by each other or the public.
Mubarak is the first Arab leader to stand trial in person since popular uprisings swept the Middle East in 2011.
Supporters held up posters of him, chanting: “He gave us 30 years of protection, Mubarak hold your head up high.”
Nearby, anti-Mubarak protesters hurled stones at police and some officers threw rocks back. At one point police with shields and batons charged a group of demonstrators.
“He has to be hanged. We don’t want any more delays in the court session,” said Mohamed Essam, who had travelled to Cairo from the Nile Delta town of Kafr el-Sheikh.
A man with blood on his face shouted: “I call on the free Egyptian people, the youth of the revolution, to see what state security is doing with the revolutionaries.”
Scuffles between pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators and police had also erupted during the two previous trial sessions.
“We are expecting to hear the testimony of four witnesses that the prosecution has asked to prove the charges against Mubarak and the others,” said Gamal Eid, a lawyer representing 16 of some 850 people killed in the uprising against Mubarak.
The former leader, a close ally of the United States, is charged with involvement in the killing of the protesters.
Eid said one witness was a top police officer, General Hussein Saeed Mohamed Mursi, who worked in the police operations room during the uprising. Eid said Mursi had been accused of deleting recordings of what happened in the room at that time.
“(Mursi) had been accused in a decision issued by the general prosecutor of deleting those recordings but he later turned into a witness,” Eid said.
The three other witnesses to be called by the court are police officers who were in the operations room during the 18 days of protests. The court named them as Emad Badr Saeed, Bassim Mohamed el-Otaify and Mahmoud Galal Abdel Hamid.
Mubarak is on trial with his sons Gamal, once seen as a future president, and Alaa, a businessman, as well as former Interior Minister Hosni Mubarak and six police officers.
Ten Kuwaiti lawyers said they were joining the defence team for Mubarak on Monday. Al Jazeera television said that they had not been allowed into the court when the trial began.
Some of the lawyers said they were making a gesture of gratitude to Mubarak for his support for a US-led coalition that expelled Iraqi forces from Kuwait in 1991.
A news conference held by the Kuwaiti lawyers on Sunday descended into chaos when backers of Mubarak attacked a journalist, scratching his arms and beating him after he asked why the Kuwaitis were defending the ousted president.