Ex-dictator Mubarak’s murder trial adjourns
CAIRO - Agence France-Presse
Former president Hosni Mubarak, lies on a stretcher as he leaves court following his trial at police academy, in Cairo. AFP photoThe judge in the murder and corruption trial of Egypt’s ex-president Hosni Mubarak adjourned the hearing yesterday to the next day to hear the prosecution’s arguments.
The fallen dictator was wheeled into court on a stretcher as his trial for the deaths of protesters during the uprising that ousted him in February. The next hearings will take place over today, Jan. 4 and Jan. 5. Mubarak, 83, faces execution if he is convicted of the murder charge. He suffers from a heart condition and is detained in a military hospital on Cairo’s outskirts. His trial resumed last week after a three month hiatus that saw the country’s first parliamentary election since his ouster and a spike in deadly protests against the generals who took charge after his overthrow. During the break, lawyers for Mubarak’s alleged victims had tried to dismiss chief judge Ahmed Refaat, whom they accused of bias towards the defence, but failed. Mubarak, also charged with corruption, shares the defendants’ cage with his former interior minister Habib al-Adly, six former security chiefs and his two sons Alaa and Gamal, who face graft charges. The hearings began on Aug. 3 after months of protests to pressure the military rulers to place the strongman, who ruled for three decades, on trial along with former regime officials.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s military ruler decreed on Jan. 1 that multi-phase elections for parliament’s consultative upper house, the Shura, will be held over a shorter period, effectively speeding up steps towards drafting a new constitution. The elections, which had been due to take place in three phases between January 29 and March 11, will now be done in two steps, wrapping up on February 22, according to the decree by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi quoted by state news agency MENA.
The first phase will take place in 13 provinces, including the largest cities Cairo and Alexandria, and the second in the remaining 14. MENA said Tantawi had decided that the Shura would meet for the first time on February 28, nearly a month earlier than previously expected. With the final phase of elections to the lower house due to wrap up with second-round run-offs on January 17, the two houses will now be able to move more swiftly towards writing a new constitution.