By Samer Al-Atrush / AFP
CAIRO: The landmark murder and corruption trial of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak entered its final day of hearings on Wednesday, with the judge expected to announce the date of the verdict.
The trial could see the toppled dictator, his interior minister Habib Al-Adly and six security chiefs sent to the gallows if convicted of complicity in the deaths of peaceful protesters during the uprising that overthrew him a year ago.
At the hearing, prosecutors told Judge Ahmed Refaat that the medical wing of Cairo’s Tora prison was ready to receive Mubarak, state television reported, after mounting calls to move him from hospital to prison.
Cameras are not allowed inside the courtroom and state television did not show Mubarak or the defendants arriving in court.
In previous sessions, his arrival by helicopter and his wheeling into court on a stretcher were aired live.
Dozens of Mubarak supporters and opponents gathered outside the courthouse, separated by police.
Both sides chanted and held up banners. One man in the anti-Mubarak crowd held a noose aloft to underline calls for once all-powerful strongman to face the death penalty.
Adly was expected to address the court on Wednesday, judicial sources said.
Mubarak could in theory hang if found guilty. The prosecution has called for the death penalty. But if sentenced, the former president would be able to appeal, according to judicial sources.
The trial was supposed to be a historic moment when the dictator is brought to justice by his long-suffering people but it has been widely criticized as little more than political theatre.
The case is legally weak, lawyers have said, charging that the prosecution has taken to the microphone to deliver sermons rather than hard evidence.
The trial itself, which began in August, has been choppy — a short investigation period, brief hearings, a three-month hiatus, incomplete testimonies and a speedy ending, the lawyers said.
Activists who joined the protests that toppled Mubarak last year say they would have rather seen him tried for abuse and mismanagement committed during his 30 years in power than for events that took place during a few days of the uprising.
Mubarak also shares the defendants’ cage with his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, who face corruption charges along with their father.
The ruling military council, headed by Mubarak’s long-time defence minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, has been eager to prove that it harbors no loyalty to its former master.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has been the target of protesters’ anger in the past months over accusations of mismanagement and human rights abuses.
If Mubarak is convicted, his lawyers and legal experts believe there would be strong grounds for appeal. His acquittal could further inflame the growing protest movement against military rule.