Judge promises speedy trial for Mubarak
Cairo – Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak will receive a speedy trial with all hearings broadcast live on state television, the judge who will try the ousted leader pledged on Sunday.
The trial is scheduled to begin on Wednesday in the country’s national police academy in a Cairo suburb.
Mubarak, his security chief Habib el-Adly and six top police officers face possible death sentences if found guilty on charges they ordered the use of lethal force against protesters during Egypt’s 18-day uprising. Some 850 were killed.
A public trial for Mubarak and his top aides is a main demand of protesters who toppled his regime. Weekly demonstrations continue in Cairo, reflecting demands for a quick public trial for the deposed strongman.
Judge Ahmed Rifaat told a news conference that he would allow 600 people to attend the trial, including defence lawyers, relatives, victims’ families and journalists.
“It is the right of the Egyptian people to be assured that what takes place in the courtroom conforms to the law,” said the silver-haired Rifaat.
Mubarak’s sons Gamal and Alaa will also be tried along with their father and a close associate on charges of corruption. The associate, businessman Hussein Salem, is a fugitive and will be tried in absentia.
The tough-talking judge read a prepared statement and left the news conference in a courthouse in downtown Cairo without answering any questions. The statement frequently cited verses from the Quran, the Muslim holy book, and made repeated pledges to ensure that the entire process would be transparent, orderly and in conformity with the law.
Rifaat did not say whether Mubarak would physically be present in Wednesday’s hearing, but he vowed to place the trial on a fast track, with daily hearings.
After his February 11 overthrow, Mubarak left Cairo for the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. He was later admitted to a local hospital for treatment for heart problems. He has remained at the hospital in police custody.
Frequent reports that Mubarak’s health has been faltering have raised speculation that the trial would be held in Sharm el-Sheikh, that it could be delayed or that Mubarak might not appear in court.
Most recently, doctors treating Mubarak have said he is weak and has lost weight because he was refusing to eat or eating little. They have also said he suffers from depression.
Activists believe Mubarak’s health is being used as a ruse to postpone the proceedings and they accuse the ruling military council, whose head was Mubarak’s long-time defence minister, of dragging its feet on the prosecution of the ex-president and other key members of his regime.