The chief prosecutor in Hosni Mubarak’s trial on Thursday demanded the death sentence for the fallen Egyptian dictator, arguing that he had ordered the killings of anti-regime demonstrators.
“The law foresees the death penalty for premeditated murder,” Mustafa Suleiman told the court at the end of his three-day case against the former president, who was toppled in a popular uprising in February, according to AFP.
In wrapping up his remarks, Suleiman said “the president of the republic is responsible for protecting the people, and the question is not simply one of whether he ordered the killing of protesters, but to know why he did not intervene to stop the violence.”
“How could the president of the republic not be aware of the demonstrations that broke out on Jan. 25 in 12 places in several governorates,” he added, rejecting claims that Mubarak was not informed of the seriousness of the situation.
He also argued that then interior minister Habib al-Adly, who is also on trial, could “not have given the order to fire on demonstrators without having been instructed to do so by Mubarak.”
The ex-president, 83, his two sons, the former interior minister Adly and six senior police officers face charges ranging from corruption to involvement in the deaths of around 850 protesters during the uprising that ended Mubarak’s three decades in power.
“The prosecution demands the maximum penalty against Mubarak and the rest of the accused which is death by hanging,” Mustafa Khater, a member of the prosecution team during a court session, according to Reuters.
Mubarak and the other defendants deny any responsibility for the deaths.
Mubarak is the only one of the leaders toppled in the wave of protests that have swept the Arab world to stand trial in person. In a country in political and economic disarray, many Egyptians say national renewal will be impossible unless those killed receive justice.
During Wednesday’s hearing, Suleiman said he had strong evidence against the fallen dictator in arguing that Mubarak had ordered the killings, and accused the interior ministry of hampering the case.
“The prosecution has confirmed that Mubarak, Adly and his aides assisted and incited” the shooting deaths of protesters, the official MENA news agency quoted him as saying.
But Suleiman said the “state apparatus had deliberately refused to cooperate with the prosecution” in the case.
The prosecution is also seeking the death penalty for Adly and the six officials.
Khater demanded the “maximum sentence” or 15 years behind bars for Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal, who are facing charges of corruption.
On Tuesday, Suleiman described Mubarak as a “tyrannical leader who sought to hand power to his younger son Gamal, who spread corruption in the country and opened the door to his friends and relatives, ruining the country without any accountability.
The trial began on Aug. 3 after months of protests to pressure the military rulers to place the former strongman on trial along with ex-regime officials.
There was a three months hiatus in which lawyers for the alleged victims unsuccessfully sought the dismissal of Judge Ahmed Refaat, whom they accused of bias towards the defense.
Relatives of those who died in the protests say their hopes to see Mubarak sentenced have been dashed by a string of witnesses who mostly confirmed the defense’s case that the former president never gave orders to shoot protesters.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s former defense minister and now the country’s military ruler, testified behind closed doors. The court issued a gag order on his testimony, but lawyers say he did not incriminate Mubarak.
Mubarak is in custody in a military hospital on Cairo’s outskirts, where he is being treated for a heart condition. His lawyer says he suffers from stomach cancer.