Egypt's ousted President Hosni Mubarak is on trial facing charges of corruption and ordering protesters be put to death during the uprising that began on January 25.
The trial is being held at Cairo’s police academy to maintain security where 3,000 government security officials were posted to keep the peace on the opening day of the trial. Emotions are high as the proceedings began and unrest was rife outside the police academy where clashes broke out between those supporting and opposing Mubarak, with more than 53 wounded reports news network Al Jazeera.
The charges Mubarak faces are for unlawful killing of protesters during the uprising that began early this year, abuse of power for profit and export of gas to Israel below the appropriate international rate.
Should he be convicted, the penalty could run from a five-year prison sentence to the death penalty. His two sons, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, are also facing charges of profiteering that carry possible prison sentences of between five and 15 years.
The gas exports deal Mubarak is accused of making with ex-petroleum minister Sameh Fahmi lead to financial losses of almost $715,000, says local news site Egypt.com, and favored East Mediterranean Gas, a major gas supplier to Egypt and Israel, in an arrangement that went against accepted legal practices regarding company selection.
Mubarak Suffering from Fatigue, Depression
Judge Ahmed Refaat adjourned the case until August 15 until which time the former president will be held at Cairo’s police academy medical center.
Delivered into the temporary court on a hospital bed and placed in a metal cage, Mubarak is reportedly suffering from loss of appetite, fatigue and depression.
The prosecution’s case against him reportedly consists of a file that is more than 12,000 pages long, according to The Guardian. The proceedings are likely to be lengthy with the defense intending to bring over 1,000 witnesses to the stand. The trial is Mubarak’s first public appearance in almost six months, and the first day of the proceedings was watched by millions as the trial is televised and broadcast live on national Egyptian television.
The proceedings are to continue on Thursday, with the hearing of ex-Interior Minister Habib Al-Adly and six high-ranking security officials. Al-Adly served as Interior Minister for 13 years during Mubarak’s term in office. The seven men face charges of involvement in the deaths of 850 protesters during the uprising earlier this year.
Mubarak, now 83, served in the Egyptian air force and became Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s vice president in 1975. After Sadat’s assassination in 1981, Mubarak became President of Egypt. Demonstrators, spurred on by the Tunisian revolution, began protests on January 25, 2011, reacting to the severe climate of Mubarak’s three-decade rule, which saw Egypt steeped in unemployment, poverty, corruption and violence. The uprising resulted in a death toll of 850 protesters and Mubarak’s fall from power on February 11, 2011.
Key Statistics – Egypt’s Economy (source: CIA Factbook)
- The population of Egypt is over 82 million.
- The rate of unemployment in Egypt in 2010 rose 0.3% year-on-year to 9.7%.
- Around a fifth of the population is living below poverty.
- Egypt’s public debt reached 80.5% of GDP in 2010.
- Its top industries are textiles, food processing, tourism, chemicals and pharmaceuticals.