Egypt’s Mubarak returns to court amid chaotic scenes | Pakistan Today

Egypt’s Mubarak returns to court amid chaotic scenes

Street clashes broke out on Monday as ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak returned to court to face charges over the killing of protesters, the first Arab leader to stand trial in person since popular uprisings began sweeping the Middle East. A helicopter landed near the court and shortly afterwards the ailing Mubarak, aged 83 and wearing a navy blue sports sweater, was wheeled on a gurney into the courtroom’s steel cage for the second session of his trial.
Hundreds of riot police stood guard but clashes erupted between a crowd of Mubarak supporters outside the building and a group demanding justice for those killed in the uprising that toppled him six months ago. “The thief has arrived!” shouted the anti-Mubarak protesters, drawing whistles from his supporters.
“Judge wake up! Mubarak killed my brothers! Execute the killer!”, shouted others. The pro-Mubarak crowd threw stones, the police cordon dividing them broke and the Mubarak supporters chased their opponents away from the court building. In a courtroom packed with excited lawyers, Mubarak looked composed and stern, hands clasped over his chest. An intravenous needle was implanted in his left hand. He was not wearing the regulation white clothes of prisoners.
He exchanged a few words with his sons Alaa and Gamal, also on trial and in the same cage with their father. They sought to shield him from cameras and one of them kissed Mubarak on the forehead to comfort him. Judge Ahmed Refaat called Mubarak’s name and he answered, “Present.” Refaat appealed for calm, ordering them to sit down to allow proceedings to begin. The hearing could decide if the head of the ruling military council will take the stand as a witness.
Defence lawyers say that any testimony by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Mubarak’s role in trying to suppress the 18-day uprising, in which about 850 people were killed, could decide the ex-president’s fate. Tantawi, who was defence minister for two decades under Mubarak, heads the military council that took power when Mubarak was ousted on Feb. 11 by the mass protests.
Tantawi’s military council has promised a transition to democracy in the Arab world’s most populous country — a process far from complete and, the pro-reform camp says, vulnerable to high-level obstruction. A Reuters reporter saw the crowds outside the court building form piles of stones to throw at each other. One protester attacked a policeman. Then police jumped on him and beat him. “All this hatred is because we let an evil man rule us for 30 years,” a senior police officer told Reuters without giving his name.
Mubarak’s lawyer Farid al-Deeb demanded that the case be postponed to give him time to view all the documents submitted to court. Lawyers for the plaintiffs asked the judge to split the trial to consider separately the charges over killings from those surrounding graft in gas exports to Israel.
The judge ordered a recess to consider the requests.
In the first court session, lawyers on both sides asked for Tantawi, former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and about 1,600 others to testify as witnesses.

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