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Mubarak’s Historic Trial Begins

Former Egyptian president denies all charges at trial in Cairo
By: Sammy Hudes
Published: August 3rd, 2011 in News » World
Mubarak lying down inside the courtroom cagePic: Egyptian TV
The courthouse in CairoPic: Egyptian TV

Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, the ousted Egyptian president, faced a Cairo court earlier today, becoming the first Arab leader to be tried in wake of the Arab spring.

In an unprecedented trial of a former Middle East leader, the 83-year-old was wheeled into the steel defendants’ cage of a makeshift courtroom. Egypt’s state television showed images of an ambulance pulling up to the court building, surrounded by security guards and onlookers. Mubarak was carried out of the ambulance and into the court building on a gurney, accompanied by a medical team.

He faces multiple charges of conspiracy for his role in killing pro-democracy protesters, as well as abuse of power. Mubarak also faces charges of corruption for benefiting from the sale of natural gas to Israel. Wednesday, August 3, 2011 has already been dubbed a historic day in Egypt’s history, as the day’s proceedings are likely to rattle Arab rulers facing unrest across the Middle East.

Mubarak’s two sons, Gamal, a banker-turned-politician, and Alaa, a businessman, are also standing on trial alongside their father. Others facing charges include former Interior Minister, Habib al-Adli; business executive and Mubarak confidant, Hussein Salem, being tried in absentia for conspiring in the killing of protesters and abusing power to amass wealth; and six senior officers.

Mubarak has been hospitalized in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April, with many Egyptians feeling that his illness is being used as a ploy to avoid public humiliation at the hands of ruling generals. He left the hospital for Cairo early this morning via a medically equipped aircraft and was accompanied by members of his family. The war veteran who ran the Arab world’s most populous nation for 30 years until being driven out on February 11 has vowed to die on Egyptian soil.

When the prosecutor finally read Mubarak’s charges aloud, Mubarak raised his hand slightly while lying in bed and identified himself.

“Yes, I am here,” he said. “I deny all these accusations completely.”

His sons, who were greeted with riots outside the police academy courtroom upon their arrival, also denied charges, while each holding a copy of the Koran.

“This is undoubtedly a historic event, by both Egyptian standards and the Arab world at large,” Professor Yoram Meital from Ben-Gurion University told Ynet. After noting that the last Arab leader to be tried, Saddam Hussein, was executed, Professor Meital said he feels that Mubarak’s trial will be very different.

“This trial will be very quick. I believe it will last only a few days or weeks, not longer than that,” he said. “Legally and constitutionally, even if there’s a death sentence, it does not guarantee that it will be carried out,” he added, when asked about a possible punishment.

Former Ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel speculated that Mubarak relatively close ties to Israel could play a part in his trial.

“It’s highly likely that the subject will come up,” said Mazel. “Many of the [anti-Mubarak] protesters have their hatred of Israel in common, and with Mubarak charged with selling gas to Israel for a price cheaper that market value, that’s bound to come up.”

The judge has reportedly adjourned the trial until August 15 and ordered that Mubarak be held at a military hospital near Cairo and be overseen by an oncologist until then.

Related articles: Egypt, Mubarak, Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, president, trial, Cairo, court
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