Egypt: Mubarak sentenced on Saturday, risks death penalty

Over accusation he ordered murder of protesters, live on TV

31 May, 20:11

(ANSAmed) - CAIRO, MAY 31 - Security has already been stepped up around the police academy on the outskirts of Cairo, where the verdict in the "trial of the century", as the Egyptian media has dubbed it, will be announced on Saturday. The most illustrious figure in the dock is the former President, Hosni Mubarak, who is accused of ordering the killing of more than 850 protesters during the revolution that saw him deposed as leader.

Mubarak's former Interior Minister, Habib el-Adly, and six of his aides, are also facing charges in the trial, which began on August 3 last year. There have also been trials on corruption and embezzlement charges for Mubarak's sons, Alaa and Gamal, with the latter's destiny as "heir to the pharaoh" one of the catalysts for the revolution, according to many observers. The former President's sons were yesterday ordered to stand trial by the general prosecutor in another case of illegal enrichment.

The two men are accused of stock exchange speculation over the sale of El Watany Bank of Egypt. The prosecution has demanded the death penalty for Mubarak and El-Adly for ordering shots to be fired at protesters. The jury chaired by Ahmad Rifaat will announce its verdict on Saturday, though legal sources have noted that this is only the preliminary ruling. The defendants will all have the faculty of appeal.

The verdict will be read out live on television and tension is already expected between supporters of the deposed President and relatives of the "martyrs" who will flock to follow the session.

At the opening of the trial last year, pictures of Mubarak laid out on a stretcher inside the defendants' cage close to his sons and the other figures accused were beamed around the world, images that would have seemed unthinkable only a few months earlier.

Since April last year, 84 year-old Mubarak has been treated in a military hospital on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital and rumours of a deterioration in his health have circulated on several occasions. After Mubarak's defence team finished pleading on February 22, the prosecutor announced that arrangements had been made for the ex-President to be taken to Tora prison, though Mubarak was never taken away from the clinic. He will be present on Saturday to hear the verdict, legal sources have said. Mubarak's sons and the other figures being tried, meanwhile, are all currently detained at Tora.

Saturday's verdict, which is loaded with emotional and symbolic meaning, comes at a very delicate time in the Egyptian transition. A run-off election to decide on Mubarak's successor is to be held on June 16 and 17. The Muslim Brotherhood exponent, Mohamed Morsi, is facing Mubarak's last Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafiq. It is taken as read, therefore, that the sentence will have repercussions on the election process. (ANSAmed).

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