Egypt’s Mubarak in the docks again over protester deaths

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Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak arrived in court on Saturday to face a retrial on charges of complicity in the murder of protesters during the uprising that swept him from power in 2011.

Mubarak shared the docks with his interior minister Habib al-Adly and six security chiefs.

The defendants face court over their complicity in the murder and attempted murder of hundreds of peaceful protesters on January 25-31, 2011.

The hearing was broadcast live on Egyptian state TV.

A brief stint of unrest erupted at the start of the hearing after Kuwaiti lawyers, shown standing outside court, were refused as former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s legal representation in his trial over protester deaths. Instead, speaking out, Mubarak said he chose Egyptian lawyer Farid al-Deeb to represent him.

All defendants pleaded "not guilty" to the charges leveled against them.

Amid a raucous start to proceedings, lawyers for the victims' families taunted Alaa and Gamal, as they stood in the dock with chants of "The people want the execution of the murderer."

But the Mubaraks appeared unfazed by the chants, as the judge struggled to keep control of the courtroom with lawyers clambering to the front to speak.

Mubarak was granted a retrial after his appeal against a life sentence was accepted due to procedural failings the first time round.

The retrial was meant to begin on April 13, but the judge in that instance recused himself in a hearing that lasted just seconds.

At Saturday's hearing, Judge Mahmoud al-Rashidi issued an emotional appeal for order, telling the court he understood their "frustration" with the process.

Before ordering a 30-minuted recess, he confirmed that there would be new evidence presented in the case, which now includes 55,000 pages of documents.

The retrial is now adjourned until June 8, the presiding judge said.

Meanwhile, the former president’s sons Gamal and Alaa were retried on corruption charges along with their father. Business tycoon Hussein Salem is being tried in absentia.

Egyptians remain polarized by the former leader who was deposed in a popular uprising in 2011, as the country struggles to move forward under the new regime of Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, elected in June.

Umm Moaz, who lost her son during the uprising, see Mubarak’s new trial as a sham and have given up on justice ever being served.

On the 28th of January 2011, her 20-year-old son Moaz was killed during the “Friday of Anger” protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

She has demonstrated outside court throughout Mubarak’s trial which first started nearly two years ago.

“At this time, I don’t trust anyone, not even the court overseeing the retrial. I have no hope that they will ensure justice for my son or any martyr. My whole life has been turned upside down,” she told AFP news agency.

The ousted leader was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison in June last year over his involvement in the deaths of 846 people during the Egyptian revolution.

Today Egypt remains in disarray, with Mursi’s tenure marked by political polarization, repeated violence and a crippling economic crisis.

Mubarak is expected to attend the trial at the police academy that once bore his name on the outskirts of Cairo.

Last month, he was transferred to prison from a military hospital after the public prosecutor ordered the move because his health was deemed stable.

After months of rumors that Mubarak was at death’s door, footage of him looking strong and defiant and waving at supporters in court had stunned many.

The retrial was originally set to begin on April 13, but Judge Mostafa Hassan Abdallah recused himself in an opening session that lasted just seconds.

Mubarak turned 85 last week.

He is currently in Tora Prison Hospital after Prosecutor-General Talaat Abdullah ordered his return there from a military hospital he had been staying in due to reports of poor health.

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