The trial of Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak, popular as the ‘trial of the century’ has resumed on Monday, as judges began hearing arguments from the plaintiffs, an Egyptian daily reported on Monday.
The former president, his two sons -- Alaa and Gamal --, the former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six senior police officers face charges ranging from corruption to involvement in the deaths of around 850 protesters during the Jan. 25 revolution that succeeded in forcing Mubarak to step down on Feb. 11.
Petitioners say that they have additional proof that Mubarak and his aides should be held accountable for the deaths of hundreds of protesters, Egypt’s al-Masry al-Youm reported.
The ailing, 83-year-old Mubarak lay on a stretcher in the defendants’ cage at the trial in which the prosecution has called for him to be hanged for the killing of hundreds of demonstrators.
Sameh Ashour, lead counsel for victims’ families in the Cairo trial, submitted official documents which he said showed that 160 police officers had been armed with automatic weapons and 4,800 live rounds.
The lawyer also showed a report from the Central Security Forces that four units, each made up of 50 policemen, had been supplied with automatic weapons and ammunition.
A speech by Mubarak on January 28, three days after the outbreak of the unrest, amounted to “implicit recognition of the use of force against demonstrators,” according to Ashour.
Mubarak said he had given instructions for police “to protect the demonstrations... before they turn into riots.”
Lawyers for civil plaintiffs have until Tuesday to present their case before the defense takes its turn, after the prosecution last week urged the court to sentence the fallen strongman to hang.
“The law punishes premeditated murder with execution. The prosecution demands the maximum punishment,” Mustafa Khater told the presiding judge, Ahmed Refaat.
Essam el-Batawy, a defence lawyer, told AFP the prosecution’s closing arguments were based, in part, on statements from witnesses they had questioned during their investigation who had not taken the stand.
“They used partial quotes from their testimony,” he said. “We will insist on listening to these witnesses in court,” saying they will be called to testify.
The chief prosecutor in 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.
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.”
He also argued that then interior minister Adly could “not have given the order to fire on demonstrators without having been instructed to do so by Mubarak.”
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.
A day before, 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.
According to al-Masry al-Youm report, the plaintiffs' legal team held a meeting on Saturday to determine who would be responsible for presenting their argument. The court asked the team to choose eight lawyers to argue the case.
Meanwhile, several other lawyers boycotted the meeting, saying they are not satisfied with the lawyers assigned the case.