Egypt army ruler testimony at Mubarak trial delayed

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The head of Egypt’s ruling army council postponed his appearance at the trial of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, saying he was busy with the security situation, media reported on Sunday, days after a spike in anti-Israel violence. Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was due to testify behind closed doors on Sunday, under a complete news blackout. The announcement of the delay to September 24 or 25 came after protesters stormed the Israeli embassy building in Cairo late on Friday, forcing Israel to fly its ambassador home.
Tantawi’s testimony could be crucial in deciding if Mubarak is guilty or innocent of charges that include conspiring to kill protesters and inciting some officers to use live ammunition during a mass uprising. Tantawi served for 20 years as Mubarak’s defence minister before becoming head of the ruling military council on February 11 when the former president was ousted from office.
“As the former regime was a dictatorship, many of the important and political decisions were taken in secrecy and only among the state’s top officials,” said Nabil Abdel Fattah, political analyst at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies. “Field Marshal Tantawi apologised regarding attending the trial of Mubarak due to being busy with the security situation in the country,” Al Arabiya TV reported, without giving details.
Thousands of activists demonstrated on Friday in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, epicentre of the uprising, to push for a timetable for a transition to democracy.
Some of the demonstrators at Tahrir Square had earlier taunted Tantawi over his testimony.
“Can you (Tantawi) tell the court on Sunday that he (Mubarak) did not order police to open fire?” said Mohamed, a 30-year-old driver who declined to give his full name.