Day-long session of Mubarak's trial held amid courtroom chaos

Arab World Materials 6 September 2011 04:34
The trial of former Egyptian president Hosny Mubarak was adjourned after a day-long session on Monday that was marred with chaos and clashes inside and outside the courtroom.
Day-long session of Mubarak's trial held amid courtroom chaos

The trial of former Egyptian president Hosny Mubarak was adjourned after a day-long session on Monday that was marred with chaos and clashes inside and outside the courtroom, DPA reported.

The court heard testimony about whether Mubarak's regime had ordered security forces to shoot at anti-government protesters during weeks of protests calling for the longtime leader's ouster earlier this year.

Meanwhile, dozens were injured and 22 people were arrested after clashes broke out between Mubarak opponents and supporters outside the court, being held at the Police Academy on the outskirts of Cairo.

Although the two previous court sessions were broadcast live on state television, no cameras, phones or recorders were allowed at Monday's session, which lasted nine hours. Judges said they had banned the broadcasts to protect the witnesses.

However, some people in the courtroom managed to post details of the proceedings on social networking websites.

Presiding judge Ahmed Refaat adjourned the trial until Wednesday. He had insisted on hearing testimony from four senior police officers, even as many lawyers on both sides left the courtroom in the middle of the day to protest the judge's silence towards clashes inside courtroom.

The witnesses, who were summoned by the prosecution, were in the Interior Ministry operations room during the January 25 revolution that forced Mubarak to step down.

Mubarak and his sons, Alaa and Gamal, have been charged with ordering the killing of protesters during this year's popular uprising.

Former interior minister Habib al-Adli and six other ministry officials face similar charges. The defendants face the death penalty if found guilty.

At least 850 protesters were killed and more than 6,000 were wounded in the January 25 revolution.

The first witness, General Hussein Moussa, told the court that security forces did not have live ammunition while dealing with the protesters. However, he also said that weapons were transferred in ambulances to police stationed at the Interior Ministry, prisons and police stations, to protect them against attacks.

He denied any knowledge that al-Adli had ordered police to shoot at protesters.

However, lawyers said Moussa had previously told prosecutors that orders were given by Ahmed Ramzy, who is among the officials charged in the case, to shoot protesters after he was ordered to do so by al-Adli.

When asked about Ramzy's orders, a second police witness said: "He told us 'consider these protesters as your siblings,'" human rights lawyer Gamal Eid wrote on his Twitter page from inside the courtroom.

Eid, who represents several protesters injured during the uprising, responded by calling the statement, "real lies."

A third witness was asked if there were orders to shoot the protesters if they reached the Ministry of Interior headquarters, located near Tahrir square. He replied that "orders were to shoot at people's legs and in the air."

Meanwhile, the fourth witness said he did not know whether there were snipers targeting protesters from rooftops of buildings overlooking the square, which had been the focal point of protesters against the Mubarak regime.

Official media reported that the Health Ministry had placed 15 ambulances on alert and had dispatched two mobile clinics to the court amid concerns about the clashes.

Mubarak, his sons and Hussein Salem, a fugitive businessman, also face charges of corruption and wasting of public funds. They are accused of selling Egyptian exports to Israel at prices lower than the market value.

Mubarak was forced to resign on February 11, after an 18-day uprising across the country demanding his ouster.

The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has been running the country since then, but faces increasing pressure from protesters and accusations of protecting figures of the former regime.