Middle East

Hosni Mubarak trial: Egypt judge to deliver verdict

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is due to learn if he has been found guilty of conspiracy in the killing of protesters during last year's uprising.

A Cairo court has begun hearing if Mr Mubarak, as well as his former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and four aides, ordered police to shoot demonstrators.

All six deny the charges. They could face the death penalty if convicted.

Mr Mubarak also faces separate charges of abusing his powers to amass wealth, with his sons Alaa and Gamal.

An associate, the tycoon Hussein Salem, is being tried in absentia.

Two other senior interior ministry security officials are accused of failing to anticipate protests and protect public and private property.

Army 'responsible'

Hosni Mubarak is the first former leader to be tried in person since the start of the Arab Spring uprisings last year.

Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia was found guilty in absentia of drugs and gun charges in July, while Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh received immunity from prosecution after handing over power in November. Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed by rebels in October.

Last May, Egypt's prosecutor general declared that Mr Mubarak would stand trial for conspiracy in the killing of about 850 unarmed protesters during the 18-day uprising that forced him to step down in February. He was also charged with using his position to enrich himself.

Mr Mubarak was taken to the court building on a stretcher ahead of the verdict

In August, Mr Mubarak was wheeled into a courtroom on a stretcher, because he had reportedly been suffering heart problems.

The prosecution experienced difficulties from the start, with none of its witnesses providing damning statements. The first five recanted their initial statements that police commanders had been ordered to use live ammunition.

Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, the head of Egypt's ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (Scaf) and former defence minister, reportedly testified in secret that the army had never been instructed to shoot demonstrators.

The trial was suspended from September to December because of a complaint - later dismissed - that the judge was biased.

In the final stage of the trial in early January, the chief prosecutor argued that it was impossible that Mr Mubarak had not ordered police to use deadly force.

The defence argued that the military had been in charge of security when the protesters were killed because the former president had imposed a curfew and transferred responsibility to the chief-of-staff. Police, therefore, could not have received orders from the defendants, their lawyers said.

The prosecutor called for the 84-year-old to be hanged.

'Obstruction'

Correspondents say that although most observers believe the trial has been conducted relatively fairly, the prosecution maintains it has been denied access to some of the most important evidence.

The court has not heard logs of calls from the interior ministry in the crucial hours when many of the protesters were killed, prosecutors say, and many key insiders have not given evidence while others have only appeared behind closed doors.

Mr Mubarak was also accused of having helped Hussein Salem siphon $714m (£464m) in public money out of a deal to sell natural gas to Israel.

He is also alleged to have allowed a company owned by Mr Salem buy government-owned land on the Red Sea coast at a discounted price in return for five villas worth $6.7m.

Alaa and Gamal Mubarak are accused of accepting bribes from Mr Salem, 79, who is currently awaiting extradition from Spain.

On Wednesday, prosecutors said the younger Mubaraks would also go on trial with seven others on charges of stock market manipulation.

The defendants allegedly made illicit gains from the sale of a bank.

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