Mubarak in court as trial resumes
CAIRO - An Egyptian judge on Saturday named top security officials to testify in the retrial of former President Hosni Mubarak on charges related to the killings of around 900 protesters during the 2011 uprising that led to his ouster.
The 85-year-old longtime autocrat's conviction for failing to stop the killings was overturned on appeals this year, leaving open questions about who ordered the use of deadly force against protesters and who carried out those orders.
The naming of former prison and top intelligence officials in the case appeared to intertwine Mubarak's trial with accusations facing his successor, Mohammed Morsi, who was ousted July 3, one year after his election.
Morsi has been held since at an undisclosed military facility and is being investigated on allegations that he and other Muslim Brotherhood leaders conspired with the Palestinian group Hamas in the neighboring Gaza Strip to escape from prison during the anti-Mubarak uprising.
That allegation was raised again in court Saturday by defense lawyers who suggested that Hamas militants were behind the attacks on prisons and police stations in the northern Sinai Peninsula, which borders Gaza.
As the trial resumed, the army continued its largest offensive in years against militants in northern Sinai. Security officials said Saturday that they uncovered explosives aimed at an Egyptian border post near a tunnel from Gaza, with a detonating wire leading back through a tunnel to Gaza.
Military intelligence officials said the discovery was another sign that Gaza-based militants are involved in attacks on Egyptian security forces. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Mubarak, who ruled over the Arab world's most populous country for nearly 30 years, grinned and waved at supporters as he was pushed in his wheelchair into the defendants' courtroom cage Saturday. Unlike previous court sessions, in which the former president lay on a gurney, Mubarak appeared healthier and more confident as he sat upright in his second court appearance since his release from a prison hospital last month. He remains in detention at a military hospital pending corruption charges.
Judge Mahmoud el-Rachidi ordered a media blackout of the next three court sessions scheduled to run from Oct. 19 until Oct. 21, citing national security reasons. The sessions will include testimonies from ex-police chief Ahmed Gamal Eddin and ex-intelligence czar Murad Muwafi, who was also a governor in Sinai during the 18-day uprising in 2011.