Mubarak trial suspended after former ally testifies

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[JURIST] The trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile] was paused on Saturday, after lawyers representing victims and their families filed motions to change both the location and judge for the trial. That morning, confidante to Mubarak and his former defense minister, Field Marshal Tantawi testified against Mubarak in a closed-session, but left early and refused to be cross-examined by counsel for the victims. Due to the closed-session, nothing has been revealed about the testimony [AP report], nor how the lawyers’ actions stem from it. 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. The trial will resume on October 30 if a higher court finds no merit in the lawyers’ filings. If upheld, the filings could delay the trial indefinitely.

Violence broke out in the Egyptian court [JURIST report] earlier this week, when the court resumed for a third session. Outside the court, demonstrators tussled with police, with several injuries reported. 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. In July, officials chose a new location for Mubarak’s trial for security reasons after reporting [JURIST reports] that the trial would take place in downtown Cairo. Also 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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