Ex-VP denies Mubarak’s involvement in killing protesters

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CAIRO: Former vice-president Omar Suleiman denied during interrogation that former president Hosni Mubarak ordered the use of live ammunition against protesters, news reports said Wednesday.

Suleiman, also ex-intelligence chief, was questioned Tuesday about "information held by the intelligence services on the incidents that erupted during the January 25 Revolution.”

Although the general prosecutor’s official spokesman Adel El-Saeid said the details of investigation would not be announced until it were over, news portal Egynews quoted well-informed judicial sources as saying that Mubarak asked the then interior minister Habib El-Adly to exercise self-restrain while dealing with the anti-regime demonstrators.

The official fact-finding mission investigating the death toll of Egypt’s revolution released its final report on Tuesday, saying that at least 846 were killed and 6,467 injured by police forces during the protests.

The mission held Mubarak ultimately responsible for killing the protesters since his interior minister had issued the orders to open fire.

El-Adly will face trial on April 24 over the premeditated murder of protesters, the attempted murder of others as well as the infliction of major damages to public and private properties which had a negative impact on the economy.

Last month, El-Adly denied during interrogation that police forces used live ammunition to disperse protesters.

According to the judicial sources, the intelligence services acquired information about the protests indicating that they would be led by members of the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) group.

The January 25 protests were mainly announced by youth groups on the social networking website Facebook.

However, the MB stance seemed unclear at that sage. While some leading members said beforehand that the group would only join the protests symbolically, others took individual initiatives and demonstrated with other political forces in different parts of Egypt.

The presence of the MB became more intense during the protests erupting on following days.

Suleiman said during the interrogation that several meetings were held at the presidential palace, some of which he attended. He however said that he did not hear anything about shooting protesters during those meetings.

Suleiman said there was classified information that he could not disclose for security reasons.

Meanwhile, the prosecution will Wednesday interrogate former speaker of the People’s Assembly (the Lower-House of the Parliament) Fathi Sorour over his alleged involvement in the attacks against protesters in Tahrir Square on Feb. 2, dubbed the “Camel Battle.”

The fact finding committee’s report said that protesters in Tahrir Square detained some of the “thugs” riding camels and horses on that day and their IDs proved that they were plain-clothed policemen and members of the former ruling National Democratic Party (NDP).

Earlier last week, Sorour had been remanded in custody for 15 days pending investigation over corruption charges.

Separately, former minister of petroleum Sameh Fahmy denied any responsibility for the export of Egyptian natural gas to seven countries, including Israel, at prices lower than the international value, news reports said.

Sameh told the prosecutor Tuesday that Mubarak and the prime minister were the ones in charge of such deals and other international agreements, presenting documents that proved the contract signed with Israel allowed a periodic price increase, the reports added.

In March, Petroleum Minister Abdullah Ghorab said talks were underway to adjust gas contracts — especially the Israel deal. He said media campaigns and public disapproval of gas exports were a sufficient basis for negotiating greater benefits for Egypt.

Political activists and critics have repeatedly accused the ministry of wasting Egypt’s resources for the sake of an “enemy state,” and launched a long legal battle against the ministry.

The battle ended with the Supreme Administrative Court authorizing the sale of gas to Israel in February 2010, while adding that the government should monitor the prices and quantity of its exports. –Additional reporting by Heba Fahmy and AFP



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