The trial of ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak resumed on Monday amid speculation that the recent acquittal of policemen tried over the killings of protesters could be a prelude to the dismissal of charges against the former president. Mubarak is accused of complicity in the killings of more than 800 protesters during the uprising that toppled his 29-year regime last year.
The 83-year-old ailing Mubarak was brought to the Cairo courthouse by helicopter from a hospital where he is held in custody. He was taken into the defendants' cage on a gurney, wearing dark sunglasses and covered by a green blanket.
Another Cairo court on Thursday acquitted five policemen of charges of killing five protesters in the capital's el-Sayedah Zeinab district during the Jan. 25 to Feb. 11 uprising. The court said three of the defendants had not been not at the site of the killings, while the other two had fired on protesters in self-defense.
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The ruling angered families of the victims. Activists demanded that the killers be brought to justice and complained that similar cases were languishing in courts across the country.
On trial with Mubarak are his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, as well as his former security chief and six top police commanders. The Mubaraks are also being tried in the same case on additional charges, of corruption.
The trial began Aug. 3 but has since been bogged down in procedural matters, including a demand by victims' lawyers that the presiding judge, Ahmed Rifaat, be removed. That request alone took a separate court some three months to rule on.
Monday's hearing was adjourned until Tuesday, when the court is due to hear from the prosecution. Mubarak’s defense attorneys declared that he intends to prove that the protesters who were killed in the early days of the uprising were foreign nationals from other countries in Africa who had been brought over to Egypt and were paid to riot.
The acquittal of the police officers in el-Sayedah Zeinab and the relatively long time the Mubarak trial is taking before even starting to deal with the core of the charges against him have led many activists to brand the proceedings a farce, organized by the generals who took over power when Mubarak was ousted. The generals are led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's defense minister for the last 20 years.
The activists believe the generals remain beholden to the Mubarak regime, and only placed the former president and his two sons under arrest after mounting pressure by protesters. The Mubaraks were arrested in April, two months after the regime was ousted. Activists believe this was long enough for the three to conceal evidence of their alleged involvement in the killings and corruption.
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