Hosni Mubarak, sons to stand trial on August 3

Hosni Mubarak, sons to stand trial on August 3
Cairo:  Former President Hosni Mubarak, who held absolute power in Egypt for nearly 30 years, goes on trial August 3 charged with corruption and intentionally killing protesters, a court official said on Wednesday.

The ousted leader's two sons will be tried at the same time on charges of corruption.

The Middle East News Agency said Abdel-Aziz Omar, head of the Court of Appeals, set the trial date that will put Mubarak and his sons in the dock six months after the former president transferred power to a military council on Feb. 11.

Mubarak's ouster caught the United States off guard and scrambling to revise its policy toward the Arab world's most populous country and a steadfast Washington ally.

The revolt in Egypt followed quickly after a similarly surprising uprising in Tunisia that forced that country's long-time leader from. Since Mubarak's ouster ongoing revolts have swept Yemen, Libya and Syria, but entrenched leaders in those countries still cling to power and have been responsible for widespread violence and killings of their own people who are demanding democratic reforms.

Mubarak could face the death penalty if convicted. At least 846 protesters were killed during the 18-day revolt.

The location of the ousted leader's trial remained unclear, given that a government-appointed panel of physicians determined on Tuesday that Mubarak was too ill to be jailed while awaiting his appearance in court.

The doctors said Mubarak's heart condition put him at risk of a sudden attack. The panel also reported to the country's general prosecutor that the 83-year-old former president was suffering from depression. Mubarak has been in custody at a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April.

Since Mubarak's ouster, tens of thousands of protesters have demonstrated repeatedly to press for a trial that would hold Mubarak accountable.

"The trial is not taking place as part of a smooth judicial process, but only in response to heavy pressures," says Bahey-eldin Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

The case, however, marks the first time in modern history that an Arab leader has been put on trial by his people. Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein was toppled during the 2003 U.S. invasion. He was captured by U.S. forces and sentenced to death three years later by an Iraqi court that was under the quiet supervision of U.S. officials.

Mubarak's prosecution has been complicated by health concerns. He has been interrogated in the hospital, but an order by the prosecutor to transfer him to prison during the investigation was overturned on grounds the prison health facilities were not sufficient to treat the former president's ailments.

The charges against Mubarak assert he "conspired with the former security chief and other senior police officers" - already on trial in a criminal court - "to commit premeditated murder, along with attempted murder of those who participated in the peaceful protests around Egypt."

The charges said Mubarak and the other officials were involved in "inciting some policemen and officers to shoot the victims, running some of them over to kill them, and terrorizing others."

Mubarak and his sons also were charged with abusing power to amass wealth and enrich associates and of accepting bribes.

A close associate of Mubarak, Hussein Salem, also was charged with bribery. The Mubaraks are accused of taking bribes in return for helping Salem with business deals. He has fled the country.

The Mubarak sons are jailed in Cairo and facing investigation for other possible crimes.
Story First Published: June 01, 2011 22:09 IST

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