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Mubarak retrial to hear Egypt security chiefs' evidence

The court summons a former head of General Intelligence Services, Murad Muwafi, army General Hassan Al Ruwaini and two other former security commanders.

Hosni Mubarak and his two sons Gamal Mubarak, left, and Alaa Mubarak attend a hearing in Cairo on Saturday. Ahmed Omar / AP Photo
Hosni Mubarak and his two sons Gamal Mubarak, left, and Alaa Mubarak attend a hearing in Cairo on Saturday. Ahmed Omar / AP Photo

CAIRO // Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak was back in court on Saturday on charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters in 2011.

Mr Mubarak, 85, wearing his trademark sunglasses, was brought into the courtroom in a wheelchair for the hearing from a military hospital where he is being detained.

It was the seventh hearing in the retrial of Mr Mubarak and his security commanders over the killings of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising that overthrew him.

Mr Mubarak was placed under house arrest last month after his lawyer successfully argued that his detention had gone on too long.

Although a technicality, the decision to release him was fraught with symbolism, coming after the ousting and detention of his Islamist successor Mohammed Morsi.

Hazem Al Beblawi, the interim prime minister, ordered Mr Mubarak to be detained immediately after his release.

A court had convicted and sentenced him to life in prison in June last year for complicity in the deaths of protesters, but a retrial was ordered in January after he appealed.

Lawyers for Mr Mubarak, his interior minister and six security commanders now argue that much of the killing during the uprising was carried out by Islamists linked to Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood movement.

They demanded the testimony of army chief Abdel Fattah El Sisi, the general who ordered Mr Morsi to step down from office and who had served as Mr Mubarak’s military intelligence chief.

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

They will testify in camera for “national security” reasons, the court said.

The court adjourned the trial to October 19, when it will begin hearing their testimony.

Other top military and police commanders had testified in Mr Mubarak’s first trial, largely exonerating him from wrongdoing.

The former prime minister Atef Obeid was also summoned to testify on corruption charges against Mr Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal, who were also in court on Saturday.

Mr Mubarak faces an array of charges, including complicity in the deaths of some of the 850 people killed during the 18-day uprising that ended his 30 years in power.

Outside the court, about 20 Mubarak supporters held up his picture, and that of Gen El Sisi, who now serves as defence minister after formally handing power to an interim government.

Mr Mubarak’s ousting was a pivotal moment in regional democratic upheavals that in Egypt led to Mr Morsi’s Islamist government, which lasted only a year.

Since his removal on July 3, Mr Morsi has been in custody in a secret location, ahead of a trial on charges of inciting the killings of protesters in clashes outside the presidential palace in December last year.

For Mr Mubarak’s supporters and the much vilified police force, Mr Morsi’s ousting came as vindication.

His Muslim Brotherhood had played a key role in overthrowing Mr Mubarak, but is increasingly accused of having used violence during the uprising.

Meanwhile, most Mubarak-era police officers who have been tried for allegedly killing protesters during the revolt were either acquitted or received light sentences.

Since his first court appearance in August 2011, Mr Mubarak has been treated for a range of ailments including a heart condition and depression.

He was even reported to have slipped into a coma last year.

His lawyer Farid Al Deeb recently said Mr Mubarak’s health had improved considerably.

* Agence France-Presse