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Mubarak 'authorised force', say prosecutors

Prosecutors at a hearing on Wednesday aimed to prove that ailing former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak gave the order to use force against protesters during a 2011 uprising. Some 850 protesters died in the unrest that led to Mubarak's February ouster.


REUTERS - Egyptian prosecutors sought on Wednesday to prove Hosni Mubarak guilty of responsibility for the killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising, saying he had authorised the use of force.

The ex-president, 83, his two sons, the former interior minister Habib el-Adly and six senior police officers face charges ranging from corruption to involvement in the deaths of around 850 protesters during the uprising that ended Mubarak's three decades in power.

For the second day of three scheduled for this week in the hearing, Mubarak appeared in a courtroom cage reserved for the accused.

Chief Prosecutor Mustafa Suleiman said Mubarak and the other defendants were not directly linked to the deaths but were charged with being "participants" implicated in the decision to use force.

"The defendants you see in the cage gave the orders to use force and violence to prevent protesters from reaching Tahrir Square," Suleiman said, adding that the decision to use force was taken on Jan. 27, the day before the most violent clashes of the uprising.

Mubarak and the other defendants deny any responsibility for the deaths.

Suleiman said the prosecutor had gathered evidence from doctors, protesters and police officers.

"We listened to over 2,000 witness accounts ... The defendants did not have a direct role in the crime scene but are referred to trial for being ... participants in it, and inciting the killers, whose individual identities are unknown, to shoot protesters," he said.

"The state agencies, including the National Security Authority and Egyptian intelligence, have deliberately not cooperated with the prosecutors in the investigation."

Mohamed El Gendi, former interior minister Adly's lawyer, took copious notes as the prosecutors made their case.

"We will respond to these allegations with evidence and documents. The evidence presented today is not new and does not prove the crime," he said.

Mubarak is the only one of the leaders toppled in the wave of protests that have swept the Arab world to stand trial in person. In a country in political and economic disarray, many Egyptians say national renewal will be impossible unless those killed receive justice.

‘Police aimed at protesters' eyes’ 

Two TV screens were set up in the courtroom showing footage prosecutors had gathered of police officers shooting during the 18-day standoff that inspired other protests around the region. Other footage showed wounded protesters.

"The police forces were aiming at protesters' eyes to deliberately blind them, and prevent them from witnessing the outcome of the revolution," Suleiman said.

Major General Hussein Said, head of communications at the state security agency, testified that an assistant to the interior minister had given orders to riot police to use weapons.

Egypt's state security agency, a branch of the NSA, is feared and reviled by Egyptians for its use of torture against political dissidents and ordinary citizens and was Mubarak's main arm in stifling dissent during his rule.

In March protesters stormed and raided state security headquarters in Cairo and other cities, capturing on camera footage of torture rooms and equipment used on those detained.

There is widespread speculation that state security agencies, seen as remnants of Mubarak's rule, were behind the bouts of violence that have erupted in over the past ten months and which the ruling military council has blamed on unknown third parties dubbed the "invisible hands".

The hearing resumes on Thursday.

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