- Egypt - Hosni Mubarak - justice - Popular revolt
Feared former minister denies corruption charges
In Egypt’s first trial of a member of former president Hosni Mubarak’s regime, former interior minister Habib al-Adly (pictured) pleaded not guilty to corruption Saturday.
AFP - Egypt's once feared former interior minister Habib al-Adly pleaded not guilty to corruption charges on Saturday, in the first trial of a member of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's regime.
Standing in the dock and dressed in white prison clothes, Adly denied accusations of money laundering and unlawful acquisition of public money.
"It didn't happen," he said twice, in a calm tone.
Throughout the trial, dozens stood outside the Cairo criminal court to demand the death penalty for Adly, whose forces have long been accused by rights groups of torture.
Riot police surrounded the courthouse in the Tagammu Khames suburb and three army tanks were positioned at the entrance ahead of the high profile trial.
"The people want the execution of the murderer," the protesters chanted, as others held banners depicting Adly with a noose around his neck.
The corruption case against Adly has fallen short of demands of some pro-democracy activists who want to see him tried for human rights abuses.
The former minister is currently being investigated for ordering the shooting of protesters with live bullets during 18 days of riots that brought down Mubarak.
Shortly after the start of the hearing, Judge Al-Mohammadi Qunsua adjourned the session to April 2, after a heated exchange between the defence team and civil society lawyers attending the trial.
Defence lawyer Mohammed Yussef Manaa had asked for more time to study the documents of the case, and refused to comment after the trial.
Qunsua said Adly had used his position as a public servant to sell land to a contractor doing work for the interior ministry, in a deal worth 4.8 million Egyptian pounds (around $813,000).
He also accused Adly of implication in money laundering to the tune of 4.5 million Egyptian pounds (around $762,000).
Ibrahim Bassiuni, a civil society lawyer volunteering for the prosecution, called on Qunsua to allow television cameras into the courtroom.
"It is the public's right to see this murderer standing in the dock," he said.
Bassiuni also said money recovered from Adly's alleged illegal deals "should be handed to the martyrs of the revolution."
Adly was arrested last month as part of a sweeping corruption investigation by the new authorities, along with several former ministers and senior members of Mubarak's National Democratic Party.
Mubarak, 82, resigned on February 11, handing power to a military council that pledged to pave the way for a free democratic system and bring to justice those found guilty of abuses.
The nationwide riots, that erupted on January 25 and saw bloody clashes between protesters and Adly's security forces, left at least 384 people dead and over 6,000 injured, while scores were detained.
A few days into the protests, police disappeared from the streets, sparking accusations that Adly had deliberately sought to sow disorder.
On Friday, Egypt's newly appointed Prime Minister Essam Sharaf vowed to respond to demands for democratic change as he addressed thousands of protesters in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
His speech was interrupted as protesters demanded the abolition of the dreaded state security apparatus, a branch of the interior ministry accused by rights groups of crushing dissent through torture.
"I pray that Egypt will be a free country and that its security apparatus will serve the citizens," Sharaf said.
By Friday evening, hundreds of demonstrators tried to storm the state security building in Egyt's second city of Alexandria with Molotov cocktails and were answered by gunfire, witnesses said.
At least four people were wounded, one critically, a security official told AFP, before troops intervened to end the clashes.