lunedì 5 settembre 2011

As Police Clash With Families, Mubarak Returns to Court

As crowds and police clashed outside a makeshift courtroom in a police academy here, prosecutors trying former President Hosni Mubarak began Monday to lay out their case against him on charges of complicity in the killing of demonstrators during the protests that ended his rule. Mr. Mubarak, 83, who is reportedly in failing health, was once again delivered by helicopter and wheeled on a gurney into a courtroom for the third day of his trial, which opened in early August. He faces charges of conspiracy to murder and corruption. As its first witnesses, the prosecution has called four senior police officials who are expected to testify about Mr. Mubarak’s role in ordering the crackdown on peaceful protesters. More than 800 died in the 18 days of demonstrations, and Mr. Mubarak’s former interior minister, Habib el Adly, is also on trial in connection with their killing. Mr. Mubarak is the first Arab strongman to go before a court in this year’s Arab Spring revolts, and his trial has captivated the region from Syria to Libya. The hearing on Monday was the first since Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was forced to flee his fortress in Tripoli, and the new provisional government set up by the rebels there is promising to apprehend him and bring him to trial as well. Reflecting the regional attention to the trial, a team of lawyers from Kuwait arrived in Cairo to join the Mubarak defense, reportedly sent by the Kuwait monarchy in gratitude for Mr. Mubarak’s support for the American-led war to drive Iraq from Kuwait in 1991. The Egyptian authorities, however, did not allow them in court on Monday. Emotions around the trial remained intense. During a recess in the trial, lawyers representing demonstrators killed during the protests scuffled briefly with lawyers for the defense after one of them held up a picture of Mr. Mubarak. Soon, people in the courtroom began chanting, “The people want to execute the murderer,” a human rights lawyer, Gamal Eid, said in a Twitter message from the courtroom. Military police entered the chamber for the first time, though they left shortly after. As before the first two sessions of the trial, stone throwing crowds outside clashed with Egyptian riot police. On Monday, the crowd was dominated by family members of those killed during the demonstrations, who initially attempted to push their way into the makeshift courtroom set up in an Egyptian police academy. During the proceedings, defense lawyers sought testimony from a police official about the number of officers and weaponry of Egypt’s central security police during the period of protests. The defense also signaled a potential attempt to blame the killings or the uprising on the Palestinian militant group Hamas. The defense sought information about members of Hamas entering Egypt during the period, Egyptian state television reported. Monday’s session was the first to be held without television cameras in the courtroom, depriving the Egyptian public — which has clamored to bring Mr. Mubarak to justice — of a further chance to see their formerly untouchable dictator laid out on a bed in the cage that serves as a docket in Egyptian criminal courts. The first two sessions of the trial were broadcast, but the judge hearing the case then ordered cameras out of the courtroom without fully explaining his reasoning. Lawyers said the ruling appeared intended to limit witnesses’ knowledge of each other’s testimony. But many Egyptians have also speculated about whether the decision is intended to shield other powerful figures from the cameras. Some wonder whether the trial — which centers on deliberations at the highest levels of the Mubarak government — might also touch on the roles or testimony of the top Egyptian military officials who are now running the country’s interim government. nytimes

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