CAIRO, Aug. 3 (UPI) — Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was moved to Cairo from a Red Sea hospital early Wednesday to be tried on corruption charges and killing protesters.
Mubarak, 83, was to be flown about 240 miles by air ambulance to Cairo’s Police Academy on the outskirts of the capital, from the Sinai Peninsula resort city of Sharm el-Sheik, officials said.
Despite reports of his severely deteriorating health, the former Arab strongman who for nearly 30 years routinely imprisoned political adversaries would indeed be in court, one of his lawyers told the Egyptian newspaper al-Ahram.
A Sinai official confirmed Wednesday Mubarak had left the Sharm el-Sheik Hospital.
A conviction in the trial could carry the death penalty.
Also to be tried are Mubarak’s two sons Gamal and Alaa, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and six police officials.
Prominent businessman and Mubarak confidant Hussein Salem is being tried in absentia because he fled to Spain. Egypt is demanding his extradition.
Mubarak will have 50 lawyers representing him in the courtroom, with prominent attorney Farid el-Deeb leading the defense team.
Some 750 other lawyers who volunteered to defend Mubarak promised to stand forming a human shield outside the courtroom, the academy’s Lecture Hall No. 1, the defense team told al-Ahram.
The other defendants were to be driven to the courtroom from Cairo’s Tora Prison, with about 5,000 soldiers and officers backed by 50 tanks and armored vehicles deployed along the route, the interior ministry said.
About 1,100 police officers surrounded the academy’s outer fence, which was reinforced with barbed wire, the ministry said.
Thousands of pro- and anti-Mubarak activists were expected outside the building.
Engineering student and Mubarak devotee Alaa Abdel Nabi, who runs a Mubarak Facebook fan page, predicted “around 30,000″ supporters would be present to show their support.
The “Union of Mr. President Mohamed Hosni Mubarak’s Fans” page had 4,666 people who said they “like” it, a United Press International review early Wednesday indicated.
“We are throwing ourselves forward with all our weight,” Nabi told al-Ahram.
Relatives of many of the 846 people killed and 6,000-plus injured in anti-Mubarak clashes with Egyptian security forces were also expected outside the hall.
No one will be allowed inside the courtroom except 600 people with permits, including civil rights lawyers and a small number of the families of victims of Mubarak’s failed effort to crush the revolution.
The news media will be allowed to cover the trial’s consecutive sessions from inside the courtroom. Only Egyptian State TV will be allowed to broadcast the trial, officials said.
All defendants, including Mubarak, were expected to sit during the trial inside an iron cage, where all suspects sit in Egyptian courts, Deputy Justice Minister Mohammed Munie said. A bed was to be made available for Mubarak if needed, the interior ministry said.
The opening session was likely to be brief and procedural, legal observers said. Mubarak’s defense lawyers were expected to demand an adjournment.