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Judge sets mid-Feb end date for Mubarak trial

By on January 11, 2012

A Cairo judge on Tuesday gave the prosecution and defence until February 16 to make their cases in the trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, accused of killing protesters during the uprising that swept him from power last year.

Mubarak, his two sons, the former interior minister and six senior police officers face charges ranging from corruption to involvement in the deaths of around 850 protesters during the popular revolt that unseated him last February.

Egyptian prosecutors have demanded the death sentence for the man who ruled the Arab world’s most populous country for 30 years.

In a spectacle that mesmerised millions of Arabs, Mubarak became the first Arab leader toppled in the wave of Arab protests to appear in person in a courtroom cage when his trial began in August.

The Cairo criminal court judge, Ahmed Refaat, told Tuesday’s session that lawyers defending Mubarak and remaining plaintiffs would have a month, starting January 17, to make their case.

Farid el-Deeb, the lawyer defending Mubarak and his sons, will begin his defence, which is expected to take five days. He will be followed by the lawyer defending ex-Interior Minister Habib al-Adli, who will take a further six days to make his case.

The court could issue a ruling after the defence makes closing comments on February 16, or it could set a separate date for a verdict and sentencing.

Many Egyptians hope the trial will heal some of the scars of Mubarak’s autocratic rule and help the country find stability after nearly a year of political turmoil under the generals who replaced him in power.

But the multitude of witnesses, complexity of charges and the prosecution’s difficulty in obtaining evidence from the security services might make it easier for the defence lawyers to push for lighter sentences for Mubarak and his co-defendents.

Both Mubarak, who was forced to step down on February 11, 2011 after 18 days of public protest, and the other defendants deny responsibility for the deaths and other charges.

For the second hearing this week, Mubarak appeared in a courtroom cage reserved for the accused, along with his sons, Adli and six senior police officers.

The court listened to 21 of the lawyers representing the families of those killed and wounded in a civil suit against Mubarak and his co-defendants. Lawyers echoed prosecution calls for Mubarak to receive the heaviest possible sentence.

During the hearing, lawyer Ashraf Mukhtar called for Mubarak and his co-defendants to pay a 1 billion Egyptian pound fine for exposing public property to arson and withdrawing security forces from the streets, which led to a security breakdown.

Mukhtar said the decision to pull police and security forces off the streets was intended to scare Egyptians into believing they faced a choice between Mubarak’s autocratic rule and chaos.


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