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Egypt starts landmark trial of ex-President Mubarak

08-04-2011 09:13 BJT

CAIRO, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak appeared in court in Cairo on Wednesday in the first session of his trial along with ten other defendants.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak speaks into a microphone during his trial at the Police Academy in Cairo, in this still image taken from video August 3, 2011. Mubarak was wheeled into a courtroom cage in a hospital bed on Wednesday to face trial for killing protesters -- an image that thrilled those who overthrew him and must have chilled other Arab autocrats facing popular uprisings. If convicted, Mubarak could face the death penalty. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

He became the first president to stand trial in the history of Egypt and also the first ever since the mass protests began to sweep the Middle East.

Mubarak was transferred to Cairo early Wednesday morning from a hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh. His two sons, Alaa and Gamal, ex- interior minister Habib Adli and six police officers also stood trial, who were in a large iron cage at the same court in the Police Academy. Meanwhile, Hussein Salem, a businessman close to the former regime was tried in absentia.

The venue, ironically, had been named after Mubarak, but his name has been removed after he was forced to resign in February after 18 days of anti-government protests.

The court opened at around 10 a.m. (0800 GMT) and ended at 2 p. m. (1200 GMT) with two breaks. The whole session was broadcast live on state TV. Some 3,000 soldiers and police and 20 armed vehicles were deployed around the venue.

Mubarak lay in bed in the cage, looking rather conscious and listening to what the judges and lawyers said. His two sons stood by him and talked with him from time to time.

Mubarak, his sons and his aides were accused of killing protesters during the Jan. 25 to Feb. 11 protests, which left 846 dead and more than 6,000 injured according to a report of government-backed fact-finding committee. The prosecutors also accused Mubarak and his sons of accepting bribes from the second suspect, runaway businessman Hussein Salem.

The Mubarak family had accepted five villas and their surroundings worth of 39.7 million Egyptian pounds ( about 6.7 million U.S. dollars) from Salem, who in return got allocation orders of two million square meters of lands in Sharm el-Sheikh.

Mubarak was also charged with cooperating with former minister of petroleum Sameh Fahmi to export gas to Israel at price below market levels through a company Salem owned a majority share.

But Mubarak and his two sons denied all the charges against them.

"I entirely deny all those accusations," said Mubarak, holding a microphone.

Mubarak's lawyer asked for a permission of photocopying the 43- page document which questioned the former president, as well as the testimony of those who were in power when the nationwide demonstrations broke out, including chief of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Hussein Tantawi.

The next session for Mubarak and his two sons will open on Aug. 15. Adli and his six assistants will continue their trial on Thursday.

Ahead of the trial, clashes occurred outside the trial venue between Mubarak's supporters and opponents who threw rocks at each other. Dozens were injured.

Police have put barriers to separate the two groups, trying to calm down the crowds after the trial began.

The court decided to put Mubarak at the international hospital complex in Ismailia desert road, not far from the Police Academy.

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