CAIRO -- Deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak was back in the criminal dock Saturday, but only long enough for the court to adjourn the case until Oct. 19 and ban the live televising of what is expected to be sensitive testimony.
Mubarak, 85, is being retried on charges linked to the killings of hundreds of protesters during the massive 2011 uprising that ended his longtime autocratic rule. The court cited national security considerations in its decision to close next month’s sessions.
The former president was convicted last year of complicity in the protesters’ deaths and given a life sentence, but he appealed and was granted a retrial this year. His two sons and a former interior minister, among others, are also on trial.
Mubarak was flown in by helicopter from a nearby military hospital where he is under house arrest. Outside the tightly guarded court, backers and opponents of the former leader cheered or jeered his arrival, with some of them exchanging oaths and blows.
Unlike some previous court appearances in which he was stretched flat on a gurney, Mubarak sat upright in a wheelchair. Clad in a casual khaki jacket, his hair still dyed its trademark jet black, he waved and smiled before watching the court proceedings from his place in the defendants’ dock, with its cage-like bars.
Egyptians were initially riveted by court appearances of the former president, who was widely feared during his nearly 30-year dictatorship. But the upheaval of recent months -- including the July ouster of Islamist Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s first democratically elected president, and the lethal breaking up of the camps of Morsi’s followers by security forces last month -- has overshadowed the Mubarak proceedings.
During October, the court is expected to hear testimony from ex-Prime Minister Atef Ebeid and other senior officials in Mubarak’s former administration.
Hassieb is a special correspondent.