Judge: Mubarak Trial To Be Televised Live

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CAIRO, Aug. 1 (UPI) — Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak’s trial will be broadcast live on state TV and be held in a hall large enough to hold 600 people, the trial judge said.

And the trial of the overthrown leader — who could face the death penalty if convicted — will be conducted “daily” from its start Wednesday until its conclusion, Ahmed Refaat said in a news conference.

Also to be tried are Mubarak’s two sons, his former interior minister and other officials.

Protesters have complained about what they considered the slow pace of prosecution of Mubarak and the other officials in the killing of some 850 demonstrators during Egypt’s 18-day uprising. They also decried what they considered a lack of public access to trials.

“The court is fully convinced of the Egyptian people’s right to follow what happens in the courtroom in terms of legal procedures,” Refaat said Sunday, adding the live coverage on state TV would “reassure people of the [credibility of the] process,” the official Middle East News Agency reported.

“In God’s words, if you are to judge people, you must do so with justice,” Refaat said.

The judge did not say if Mubarak would be present — and he took no reporters’ questions — but The Egyptian Gazette reported Monday the Interior Ministry was coordinating with Egypt’s ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces to ensure the security of Mubarak and the other defendants during their transfer to the trial, which will be held in the national police academy building just outside Cairo.

Mubarak, 83, a cancer survivor, has been held in custody in a hospital in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm el-Sheik since suffering a reported heart attack during his first interrogation in early April.

Some Egyptians see his various continued illnesses as ploys to avoid prosecution, The New York Times said. But others see them as a ploy by the country’s military rulers to avoid publicly humiliating their former commander in chief, al-Jazeera reported.

The former president has so far been spared transfer to Cairo’s notorious Tora Prison where his sons Gamal and Alaa and other officials wait trial.

Doctors said last week Mubarak refused solid food, but Egyptian Health Minister Amr Helmy said Thursday Mubarak was strong enough to be transported to the trial.

And Deputy Justice Minister Mohammed Munie said Mubarak, his sons, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and six police officials would sit during the trial where all suspects sit in Egyptian courts — inside an iron cage.

Prominent businessman and Mubarak confidant Hussein Salem is being tried in absentia because he fled to Spain. Egypt is demanding his extradition.

Charges against Mubarak include corruption and ordering the killing of protesters. His sons face corruption counts. The former interior minister along with his six aides will be tried for killing 850 and injuring some 6,000 protesters.

Egyptian protesters said over the weekend they would suspend their Tahrir Square sit-ins during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins Monday, and would return to the square to press for reforms after the month is over Aug. 29.

Activists occupying the square that became the epicenter of the protests that toppled Mubarak have since July 8 been denouncing the military rulers’ handling of the transition.

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