Mubarak trial: Ex-spy chief testifies

2011-09-13 17:22

Cairo - One of the most secretive figures of Hosni Mubarak's inner circle testified on Tuesday at the ousted leader's trial under a complete media blackout, facing questions whether his former boss ordered the use of lethal force against protesters.

Omar Suleiman, who was Mubarak's long-time intelligence chief and was named vice president during the last weeks of his rule, is the first in a string of members of the ousted leader's most senior leadership to appear in the court. Egypt's current military ruler, who was Mubarak's defence minister, had been due to testify on Sunday but failed to appear.

It is unprecedented for a court in Egypt to summon such high-level figures - particularly authorities from the highly secretive military and intelligence services.

The judge has closed the court for the testimonies, barring anyone from attending except lawyers. Not only are journalists forbidden to attend, they are not allowed to report anything on the testimony or even quote lawyers who attended the session.

The 83-year-old Mubarak, his former interior minister and six other senior police officers face charges of complicity in the deaths of the protesters during the 18-day uprising that led to Mubarak's February 11 ouster. They could face the death penalty if convicted. More than 850 protesters were killed by police who opened fire on crowds.

The trial hinges on the question whether Mubarak or then-interior minister Habib el-Adly ordered police to use lethal force against the protesters - or if Mubarak took any action to prevent bloodshed once it began.

The 74-year-old Suleiman, one of the most secretive figures in Mubarak's government, was Mubarak's point man in dealing with the protesters against his rule. Witnesses confirmed that Suleiman arrived on Tuesday morning at the heavily fortified Police Academy on Cairo's outskirts where the trial is being held.

Anger and frustration

Hafez Abu Saada, a rights advocate who is serving as a lawyer for families of slain protesters, said the chief judge in Tuesday's session is expected to ask Suleiman the key questions, "Did Mubarak give orders, by any phrasing, to use force against protesters?" The state-run Al-Akhbar daily said Suleiman will be asked whether Mubarak gave any orders to stop shooting of protesters.

In July, Suleiman told prosecutors that neither Mubarak or his security chief Habib el-Adly issued orders to use violence against protesters.

According to a transcript published by the independent daily Al-Masry Al-Youm, Suleiman blamed "criminal elements" for storming police stations and prisons during the uprising, prompting security forces to act in self-defense leading to deaths.

However, he said that Mubarak was aware of the degree of anger and frustration in Egypt because of deteriorating economic conditions and widespread corruption and that he asked Mubarak to order the army to be ready to be deployed if needed to protect the state institutions. Suleiman told prosecutors that he advised Mubarak to meet protesters' demands.

Many believe that Suleiman himself should be a co-defendant alongside Mubarak, given that he had such a leading role in the leadership during the uprising.

Mohammed Zarei, another victims' families' lawyer, described Suleiman as "the black box".

"Excluding Suleiman from charges of complicity of killing protesters was and remains a surprise to me because he holds part of the responsibility," he said.

Final move


Suleiman was appointed as Egypt's vice president on January 29 - five days into the popular revolt - in a bid to rescue Mubarak's rule.

In his final move, Mubarak tried to hand over all his powers to Suleiman while remaining president, but intensified protests prompted the military to force Mubarak and Suleiman to resign the next day. It was Suleiman who appeared on state TV on February 11 to tersely announce that Mubarak had stepped down and that power now lay with the military.

Suleiman had played a major behind-the-scenes role during Mubarak's regime, entrusted with the most crucial issues. He managed relations with the United States, Israel, the Palestinians and neighbouring Sudan. He was also Egypt's point man in mediating between Israel and the Palestinians and between the rival Palestinian factions.

Suleiman became military intelligence chief in 1991 during the Gulf War, when Egypt was among the Arab forces that helped the US-led coalition drive Saddam Hussein's military out of Kuwait. He rescued Mubarak from an assassination attempt back in mid-1990s on the hands of Islamic militants.

Egypt's military ruler, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, and his chief of staff Sami Anan failed to appear in court to testify this week as expected. The judge subsequently summoned them to appear on September 24-25.

- AP

Read more on:    hosni mubarak  |  egypt  |  egypt protests  |  north africa  |  uprisings  |  mubarak trial
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

Zuma: Pray for peaceful polls

President Jacob Zuma has asked members of the Universal Church of the Kingdom of God to pray for peaceful elections on 7 May.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Friday Grabouw - 11:32 AM
    Road name: N2 Eastbound
    DELAYS between Sir Lowrys Pass and Grabouw
  • Friday Cape Town - 10:14 AM
    Road name: M3 Inbound
    EVENT - left lane closed between Rhodes Avenue and UCT
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

BlackBerry Curve 9360

The BlackBerry Curve 9360 smartphone comes preloaded with Blackberry OS7...

From R1595.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

You may find yourself putting in that extra effort on looking good and making an impression. ...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.