Egyptian judge adjourns Mubarak retrial | Middle East| News and analysis of events in the Arab world | DW | 14.09.2013
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Middle East

Egyptian judge adjourns Mubarak retrial

The retrial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been adjourned, with a fresh hearing date set for October 19. Small groups of protesters have taken to the streets, defying a military state of emergency.

Egypt's ailing former president Hosni Mubarak was back in court Saturday. The 85-year-old former strongman appeared healthier and more confident as he sat upright in what was his second court appearance since his release from a prison hospital last month.

He grinned and waved at supporters as he was pushed in his wheelchair into the defendants' courtroom cage, wearing his trademark sunglasses.

Mubarak is being retried on charges of failing to prevent the killing of more than 800 peaceful protesters in the uprising that forced him out of power in 2011's so-called Arab Spring. His interior minister, Habib al-Adly, and six former security chiefs also face the same charges.

Saturday's hearing was the seventh in the retrial of Mubarak and his six security commanders. In June last year, a court had convicted and sentenced the former president to life in prison for complicity in the deaths of protesters, but a retrial was ordered in January after he appealed.

Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, face additional charges of squandering public funds.

Army chief to testify Muslim Brotherhood killed protesters

Lawyers for Mubarak, his interior minister and security commanders now argue that much of the killing during the uprising was carried out by Islamists linked to the Muslim Brotherhood movement of the former president's democratically elected successor, Mohammed Morsi.

The lawyers demanded the testimony of army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, the general who overthrew Morsi and who had served as Mubarak's military intelligence chief.

The court on Saturday summoned former head of General Intelligence Services Murad Muwafi, army General Hassan al-Ruwaini and two other former security commanders.

Media blackout for October sessions

Chief Judge Mahmoud al-Rashidi adjourned the hearing, now to be held over three court sessions between October 19 and 21. Al-Rashidi ruled that the sessions could not be broadcast on television or covered in print media, for security reasons.

In the closed-door hearings, the court is to cross-examine former Prime Minister Atef Ebeid, ex-chief of the intelligence service Murad Mewafi and former Interior Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin.

Mubarak supporters and followers of his successor, ousted Islamist President Morsi, fought outside the court building on Saturday. The trial offered a rare excuse for the two sides to come face to face.

Crackdown on Islamists continues

Another Cairo court Saturday heard a request from the country's chief prosecutor to freeze the assets of 14 leading Islamists, including Mohammed Badie, the detained head of Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood.

Defense lawyers told the court that the case is politically motivated. The court announced that it would rule on Tuesday.

Hundreds of Egypt's Islamists have been detained since July, when the army deposed Morsi after massive street protests against his rule. The Brotherhood has condemned the ouster of Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, as a coup and vowed to continue protests until he is restored to power.

About 200 supporters of Mohamed Morsi held a "symbolic" march Saturday in Cairo to mark a deadly crackdown by security forces on backers of the ousted Islamist president a month ago.

Chanting men, women and children marched in the Nasr City district near Rabaa al-Adawiya Square, the site of one of two pro-Morsi protest camps targeted by security forces in the August 14 crackdown. More than 1000 protestors were killed in the weeks of unrest that followed.

Protesters tried to march to the square on Saturday but dispersed before reaching it, rather than clashing with security forces.

On Saturday, Egypt's Interior Ministry issued a new warning to Islamist protesters, pledging to clamp down on demonstrators if they block roads or obstruct traffic. The ministry statement came a day after thousands of Morsi supporters rallied in Cairo.

ch /slk (DPA Reuters AP AFP)