Mubarak trial suspended over alleged court bias

Arab World Materials 24 September 2011 20:15 (UTC +04:00)

The trial of former Egyptian president Hosny Mubarak was suspended Saturday, until October 30, after lawyers filed for a change of court judges overseeing the trial due to alleged bias, state television reported.

Lawyers, representing the families of protesters killed this year during a popular revolt against Mubarak, claimed that the court judges were not fair to them during Saturday's session, dpa quoted to the television report as saying.

Their complaint related to the testimony of Egypt's military ruler Hussein Tantawi, which he gave behind closed doors, state television said.

The lawyers' request is to be decided upon by another court on Monday. If accepted, a new team of judges would be assigned to start the trial from scratch, according to legal experts.

Tantawi, who served as defence minister under Mubarak, arrived at the courthouse on the outskirts of Cairo amid tight army security. His testimony lasted 90 minutes, state television reported.

Around 100 loyalists to Mubarak gathered outside the court building and claimed that Tantawi's testimony favoured the former strongman. They waved portraits of Mubarak in celebration.

The court has barred the media from sessions containing key testimony in order to "preserve national security."

Tantawi was summoned by the court for a second time after he failed to show up two weeks ago, saying he was busy with the security situation in the country following a violent assault on the Israeli embassy in Cairo.

Mubarak, 83, is being tried on charges of ordering the killing of around 850 people during the revolt that eventually toppled him in February.

Ex-interior minister Habib al-Adli and six former security aides face the same charges.

Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, are also accused of corruption. All defendants pleaded not guilty when the trial started on August 3.