Egyptian prosecutors on Thursday demanded the death penalty for former dictator Hosni Mubarak, claiming that he was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that overthrew him.
"The law punishes premeditated murder with execution," prosecutor Mustafa Khater told the presiding judge, Ahmed Refaat. "The prosecution demands the maximum punishment and the rest of the accused, which is death by hanging."
The demand for Mubarak to be executed represents an end to the prosecution case in the trial of the former dictator, currently detained in a military hospital and being treated for a heart condition. Seven security chiefs are on trial over the killings alongside the 83-year-old, who appeared in court lying down in a cage housing the defendants.
"The souls of the dead, martyrs, are asking where is the judge on earth, the just judge, who will listen to our complaints, who will punish the oppressors? Punishing the defendants will give each his right," added Khater.
The speech prompted cheering from some lawyers, who chanted "Death, death... God is greatest."
'Approval was needed'
Chief prosecutor Mustafa Suleiman told the court that Mubarak's approval would have been needed for the killings to take place.
Suleiman said that former interior minister Habib al-Adly, one of Mubarak's codefendants, would have passed on the dictator's orders to open fire on protesters.
Adly could "not have given the order to fire on demonstrators without having been instructed to do so by Mubarak," Suleiman said.
At least 846 people died during the 18-day uprising that ended Mubarak's three-decade rule on February 11 last year. More than 5,000 military and police personnel have been deployed to maintain security inside and outside the courtroom.
Defense lawyers, and representatives of alleged victims' families, are due to argue their case in sessions to begin on Monday. Mubarak also faces corruption charges, along with his sons Gamal and Alaa.
The hearing was held a day after polls closed in the final round of parliamentary elections that are expected to give control of parliament to Islamists.
Author: Richard Connor (AFP, AP; Reuters)
Editor: Andy Valvur