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Trial wraps up for Egypt's Mubarak

Ben Hubbard

Egypt's ousted president Hosni Mubarak turned down a chance to address the court in the last session before the verdict in the seven-month trial.

Egypt’s ousted president Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday turned down a chance to address the court in the last session before the verdict in the seven-month trial in which he faces the death penalty.

Mubarak, who ran Egypt for 30 years, is accused of complicity in the killing of protesters during the 18-day popular uprising that pushed him from power in February of last year.

More than 800 people were killed during the uprisings, many of them demonstrators shot dead by security forces.

Egyptians have closely followed the case, and many see its slow progress as an indictment of the council of ruling army generals who took power when Mubarak stepped down.

Critics of the military’s handling of the transition to democracy say the trial’s pace reflects a wider lack of justice for those killed in the uprising. Egyptian courts have so far not punished any police officers for the protester deaths.

Others have criticised the prosecution’s handling of the case, saying it has failed to present strong enough evidence to support a murder charge.

The prosecution is asking for the death sentence for Mubarak, usually carried out by hanging in Egypt. Mubarak’s defense team argues that he is still president, and thus can only be tried for treason or in a special court. The judge was expected to set a date for the verdict and sentencing later in the session.

“I have no comment,” Mubarak told the judge on Wednesday. “What the lawyer said is enough.”

Mubarak’s interior minister at the time, however, spoke for an hour and a half, saying the uprising was the result of a foreign plot to destabilise Egypt.

“I reaffirm before you that there were foreign saboteurs who desecrated Egypt’s pure land and were supported by internal criminal elements with the aim of undermining Egypt’s international and regional standing and attempting to destabilise its political, security and economic stability,” said Habib el-Adly. He ran Mubarak’s security services and faces the same charge.

El-Adly said the plot involved “killing peaceful protesters, storming prisons to free terrorist and criminal elements, vandalising public and private properities and burning policemen inside their vehicles”.

Dozens of policemen men were also killed during the uprising.

El-Adly offered his condolences to the families of those killed, prompting laywers in the room to shout, “Butcher! Execution!”

Six other ranking security officers are being tried in the same case. Mubarak, his sons Gamal and Alaa and a close associate are being tried in a separate case on corruption charges.—Sapa-AP

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