Key Mubarak Trial Witness To Be Decided

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CAIRO, Aug. 15 (UPI) — Defense lawyers for Hosni Mubarak say they are awaiting a judge’s ruling on whether key testimony will be allowed in the former Egyptian president’s trial.

Cairo Criminal Court Judge Ahmed Refaat could rule as early as Monday if de facto Egyptian leader Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, Egypt’s defense minister and chairman of the military council that took power Feb. 11, would be called to testify, the defense attorneys told al-Jazeera.

“Tantawi’s testimony would help the court determine whether Mubarak gave orders to [former] Interior Minister Habib el-Adly to fire at protesters or whether Adly was acting independently,” a member of the defense team told the news service and broadcaster.

“The defense team sees Tantawi as a compurgator, or a witness whose testimony would exonerate Mubarak,” another lawyer told the service. “The plaintiffs’ lawyers, however, expect him to testify that he received orders to fire, which is necessary to convict Mubarak.”

Tantawi has agreed to appear in court if called to testify, the Egyptian daily al-Ahram reported.

But his testimony would likely come late in the trial to shield the army from taking heat in the controversial case, a judicial source told al-Jazeera.

Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, along with Adly — one of Mubarak’s most despised lieutenants — and six police officials, are charged with corruption and ordering Egyptian security forces to shoot at demonstrators during anti-Mubarak, pro-democracy clashes during the 18-day January and February revolt, an accusation that could see Mubarak given the death penalty if found guilty.

At least 846 demonstrators were killed and more than 6,000 others were injured in the clashes.

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

Mubarak, who was to appear in court again Monday, has accused Tantawi of being responsible for the decision made during the uprising to cut all communication services. The ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, which Tantawi leads, denied the accusation.

The trial was to be broadcast live by Egyptian State TV.

Mubarak loyalists said they would stage a pro-Mubarak demonstration outside the police academy on the outskirts of the Egyptian capital, where Mubarak’s trial is taking place.

The academy was once named for the ailing 83-year-old Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years.

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