Ousted president Hosni Mubarak faces trial
Issued on: Modified:
The trial of Hosni Mubarak is expected to begin early Wednesday despite speculation that poor health might force delays. Security sources say he will be flown by helicopter to Cairo from Sharm el-Sheikh, and taken from the airport directly to court.
REUTERS - Ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was expected to be flown by helicopter to Cairo for trial early on Wednesday security officials said, contradicting speculation he was too frail to attend.
A security source in South Sinai said Mubarak would be transported in a military helicopter equipped medically from his home in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to Cairo.
Another security source said the former president would land in Al Maza military airport in Cairo then be flown to the Police Academy where the trial would be held.
An airport source in Sharm el-Sheikh told Reuters earlier a notice was circulating saying Mubarak would be flown from there to Cairo between 6 a.m. and 7.30 a.m. Wednesday morning.
That source said Mubarak would be taken directly to the trial venue. The notice about moving him was issued to authorities in South Sinai, which is responsible for the Sharm el-Sheikh area.
Mubarak, 83, has been hospitalised in Sharm el-Sheikh since April when he was first questioned. His trial is scheduled to start for Wednesday.
Many Egyptians see his illness as a ruse so the army can avoid publicly humiliating their former commander, who has been charged with conspiring to kill protesters and other crimes.
The health minister has said the former president is well enough to be moved. A source at the hospital said staff were on standby to transfer him early on Wednesday but could not confirm if a decision had been taken to do so.
Demonstrators are likely to be enraged if Mubarak does not appear in the court that has been set up in a Police Academy complex where he addressed the nation two days before protests against his rule erupted on Jan. 25. He quit 18 days later.
A large cage has been set up in a hall in the Police Academy where the trial will proce
ed. Defendants in Egyptian criminal trials are put behind bars during court sessions.
“I really hope he will come to court and stand trial. This man has done a lot of bad things to his people and there is no excuse for him to do so, but whether he will get convicted or not, I really do not think I will live to see this day,” said Mary Gerges, 23, speaking in Cairo on her way to work.
“I think the man is so guilty and I don’t know how he cannot have been aware of all the bad things that were happening when he was in power. He was the president and was in charge of everything,” said Saleh Abdel Aziz, 52, owner of a shop in downtown Cairo.
He will stand trial with his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, as well as former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli and six other senior officers. A business executive included in the trial will be tried in absentia.
Charges range from conspiring to kill protesters to abuse of power to amass wealth.
One lawyer representing 16 of the roughly 850 people killed in the 18-day uprising, Gamal Eid, said he and some other lawyers representing victims had not been given permits to attend the trial.
“We have asked to view Mubarak’s file and investigations conducting him and
until now we have not been allowed to do that and for no valid reason,” he said.
“This makes us worry about the seriousness of the trial. But we will go to court tomorrow and stand outside it if we are not allowed in,” he told Reuters.
The state news agency MENA said about 200 lawyers had tried to storm the office of the judge in charge of issuing the trial permits to protest that they have not been given one.
MENA said security had been stepped up at the Police Academy and surrounding area, including streets leading to the complex.
“The plan will include 20 armed vehicles and around 3,000 soldiers...along with an armed cordon that will be put around all the entrances of the academy,” the agency said.
Only those with permits issued before the trial will be allowed to enter the hall. The presiding judge said a maximum of 600 people would be allowed to attend.
The judge in charge of issuing permits said those allowed to attend were the relatives of the accused, accredited journalists and some relatives of victims.