Mubarak pleads not guilty, trial adjourned until August 15 for health

[JURIST] The trial of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive] began on Wednesday, with Mubarak pleading not guilty to all charges. Mubarak is charged [JURIST report] with murder, attempted killing of protesters and other charges related to general abuse of power [Al Jazeera report] stemming from his response to pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt [JURIST news archive] earlier this year. He is on trial with his two sons, six deputies and a businessman who also face corruption charges. His sons, Gamal and Alaa, also pleaded not guilty to the charges. The judge postponed the trial of Mubarak and his sons until August 15 so that Mubarak can be treated by an oncologist at a military hospital. Those not related to Mubarak will continue their trials Thursday. Mubarak, although reportedly ill after hospitalization in April [JURIST report], was described as looking surprisingly healthy and alert [Al Jazeera report]. The defense asked that they be allowed to call Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi [official profile], Egypt's current defense minister and Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, as a witness at trial. Tantawi is the temporary head of state, and was commander-in-chief of the Egyptian Armed Forces at the time of the uprising. It appears Mubarak's team will allege that all of the violence against protesters arose under Tantawi's orders, not Mubarak's.

Officials chose a new location for Mubarak's trial for security reasons after reporting [JURIST reports] that the trial would take place at a convention center in downtown Cairo. The trial will also be televised internationally [JURIST report]. The announcement came amid speculation [Reuters report] that the trial would take place at a Red Sea resort because of Mubarak's alleged poor health. Many Egyptians contend that Mubarak is not ill and that members of the government have claimed the ex-president is sick in an effort to avoid a swift, public trial. Last week, an Egyptian criminal court postponed the trial [JURIST report] of former interior minister Habib el-Adly, who also faces murder charges in relation to the pro-democracy demonstrations, until Wednesday. In March, a commission of Arab and Egyptian human rights groups accused Mubarak [JURIST report] and the police of murdering protesters during the demonstrations in Egypt. Mubarak could face the death penalty [JURIST report] if convicted of ordering attacks on protesters. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported that at least 840 people were killed [JURIST report], and more than 6,000 were injured, during the Egyptian protests.

 

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