Mubarak trial resumes amid courtroom violence

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[JURIST] Violence broke out in the Egyptian court where the corruption and murder trial of former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive] resumed on Monday for a third session. As the first witness for the prosecution began testimony during the trial’s third hearing, plaintiffs and their lawyers clashed with Mubarak supporters [Daily News Egypt report]. The witness was a police official who testified that he heard over wireless networks “unilateral” orders to deploy firearms to protect the Ministry of Interior [official website] headquarters on Jan. 28. Outside the court, demonstrators tussled with police, with several injuries reported. Hundreds of victims’ families and protesters attempted to break through the main gates and enter the court building. Riot police swung batons and briefly clashed with the protesters, who threw stones at the security forces. Mubarak is on trial for murder, attempted killing of protesters and other charges related to general abuse of power [Al Jazeera report] stemming from his response to pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt [JURIST news archive] earlier this year. Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa, are also on trial for corruption charges.

Mubarak’s trial began on August 3 [JURIST report] with Mubarak and his sons pleading not guilty to all charges. Presiding Judge Ahmed Rifaat last month decided to end live TV broadcasts [JURIST report] of subsequent proceedings amid protests from the families of victims and praise from several courtroom lawyers who opposed the broadcasts. Officials chose a new location for Mubarak’s trial for security reasons after reporting [JURIST reports] that the trial would take place at a convention center in downtown Cairo. In July, an Egyptian criminal court postponed the trial [JURIST report] of former interior minister Habib el-Adly, who also faces murder charges in relation to the pro-democracy demonstrations, so it would coincide with Mubarak’s trial. In March, a commission of Arab and Egyptian human rights groups accused Mubarak [JURIST report] and the police of murdering protesters during the demonstrations in Egypt. Mubarak could face the death penalty [JURIST report] if convicted of ordering attacks on protesters. Amnesty International (AI) [advocacy website] reported that at least 840 people were killed [JURIST report] and more than 6,000 injured during the Egyptian protests.

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