Mubarak to face trial

2011-08-03 07:38

Cairo – Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak flew to Cairo today, where he will be tried for conspiring to kill protesters, the first Arab ruler to be put in the dock since uprisings swept the region.

Speculation swirled in the hours before the trial about whether the 83-year-old, hospitalised in Sharm el-Sheikh on the Red Sea since April, would turn up in a court set up in the Police Academy in Cairo and with a cage for defendants.

“Mubarak has left Sharm el-Sheikh hospital,” Mohamed Naguib, the head of security in South Sinai, said after a motorcade that included ambulances and security vehicles left the hospital in resort and headed for the local airport.

Police patrolled the street near Mubarak’s hospital and barred the way to a small group of protesters outside, chanting “the people want the execution of the killer”.

A small pro-Mubarak rally of men, women and children chanted “oh Mubarak, hold your head high” and “we will demolish the prison and burn it down if Hosni Mubarak is sentenced”.

Mubarak will stand trial with his two sons Gamal, a banker-turned-politician once seen as being groomed for top office, and Alaa, who had business interests, as well as former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli and six senior officers.

A business executive and Mubarak confidant, Hussein Salem, is being tried in absentia.

Charges range from conspiring in the killing of protesters to abusing power to amass wealth. If convicted, Mubarak could face the death penalty.

Security was tightened in Cairo’s Tahrir Square. Police and military officers in riot gear were deployed there, with dozens of police trucks and a few army armoured personnel vehicles.

Cage in police academy
The big metal cage stands in a hall that can seat hundreds of people in the Police Academy, the same location where two days before protests erupted on January 25, Mubarak had praised the work of the police in keeping Egypt secure.

Egyptians blame Mubarak for economic policies they say filled the pockets of the rich while many of the nation’s 80 million people scrabbled in squalor to feed their families.

They are also angry at his repression of any opposition.

Yet some are reluctant to see a man who was a bomber pilot and then leader of the air force in the 1973 war with Israel put in the dock.

Others are simply tired of the disruption protests have cause and want to return to their daily lives.

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