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Tuesday, 23 August, 2011, 3:37 ( 1:37 GMT )
Hearing of Mubarak's Trial Postponed
15/08/2011 14:31:00
Judge Ahmed Refaat trying Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak for the killing of protesters wrapped up Monday's session and said the court would reconvene on September 5 to begin hearing evidence in the case.

Judge Refaat ordered that the trial be merged with that of former Interior Minister Habib el-Adli and said TV coverage of the trial would end until sentencing takes place.

In a courtroom packed with excited lawyers, Mubarak looked composed and stern, hands clasped over his chest. An intravenous needle was implanted in his left hand. He was not wearing the regulation white clothes of prisoners.

Before the judge began proceedings, Mubarak exchanged a few words with his sons Alaa and Gamal, who are also on trial and in the same cage with their father. They sought to shield him from cameras and one of them kissed Mubarak on the forehead to comfort him.

Medical reports issued after Mubarak was taken to a hospital following initial questioning in April said he was suffering from heart problems, depression and fainting fits.

The judge called Mubarak's name and he answered, "Present." Then Refaat appealed for calm, ordering them to sit down to allow proceedings to begin.

Mubarak's lawyer Farid al-Deeb demanded that the case be postponed to give him time to view all the documents submitted to court. Lawyers for the plaintiffs asked the judge to split the trial to consider separately the charges over killings from those surrounding graft in gas exports to Israel.

The judge ordered a recess to consider the requests and the n elected to adjourn for three weeks.

Sherif Mohamed, an engineer watching the trial outside the court building was quoted saying by Reuters> that it ws “preposterous”. The case is necessary for public opinion. Not airing it live means there is a deal with Mubarak."

Street clashes had broken out as the ousted Egyptian President returned to court in the morning to face charges, the first Arab leader to stand trial in person since popular uprisings began sweeping the Middle East.

A helicopter landed near the court and shortly afterwards the ailing Mubarak, aged 83 and wearing a navy blue sports sweater, was wheeled on a gurney into the courtroom's steel cage for the second session of his trial.

Hundreds of riot police stood guard but clashes erupted between a crowd of Mubarak supporters outside the building and a group demanding justice for those killed in the uprising that toppled him six months ago.

Anti-Mubarak protesters shouted: "The thief has arrived!" Others were hearing saying:
"Judge wake up! Mubarak killed my brothers! Execute the killer!". 

The pro-Mubarak crowd threw stones, the police cordon dividing them broke and the Mubarak supporters chased their opponents away from the court building.

The hearing now left for September 5 could decide if the head of the ruling military council will take the stand as a witness.

Defence lawyers say that any testimony by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Mubarak's role in trying to suppress the 18-day uprising, in which about 850 people were killed, could decide the ex-President's fate.

Tantawi, who was defence minister for two decades under Mubarak, heads the military council that took power when Mubarak was ousted on February 11 by the mass protests.

Tantawi's military council has promised a transition to democracy in the Arab world's most populous country - a process far from complete and, the pro-reform camp says, vulnerable to high-level obstruction.

The charges against the former air force commander could carry the death penalty. He denied all accusations during the opening session, which was aired live and counted as his first public appearance since February 11.

Around 850 people were killed during the uprising and over 6,000 wounded when security forces fired live rounds, rubber bullets and used water cannon and batons against the protesters.

In the first court session, lawyers on both sides asked for Tantawi, former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman and about 1 600 others to testify as witnesses.

"Tantawi's testimony would help the court determine whether Mubarak gave orders to Interior Minister Habib al-Adli to fire at protesters or whether Adli was acting independently," said a member of the defence team.

A judge on Sunday set the next hearing for Adli and six of his lieutenants for September 05, on the same day as Mubarak's trial.

Lawyers for the families of those killed have also demanded that Tantawi testify.
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