Egypt: Military ruler comes face-to-face with ex-boss

Tantawi had been due to testify on September 11, but failed to attend the session citing a crisis.

Cairo: Egypt`s military ruler Field Marshal
Mohamed Hussein Tantawi testified on Saturday in a trial that could decide the fate of the country`s ousted ailing president Hosni Mubarak, but left without being cross-examined.

Tantawi trooped to the courtroom under heavy military
escort to come face-to-face with his former boss, lying on a
gurney under the defendants` cage for the first time since his
fall from power, Al Arabia news channel reported.

The head of the country`s ruling military council arrived
at the hearing earlier than usual and left after an hour-long
deposition without allowing cross examination.

"The measures were unusual...the session started early
and by the time lawyers arrived the testimony was over,"
lawyers representing the people killed in the revolution told

The testimony of Tantawi, who was Defence Minister for
two decades, may prove to be decisive in the case against
Mubarak, who has charged with complicity in the killings of
protestors during the crackdown on the country`s uprising.

Also, on trial with Mubarak and facing the same charges
are his former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six former
top security officials. The former President and his two sons
also face corruption charges.

Tantawi followed the country`s former spy chief and vice
president Omar Suleiman in testifying in the case. The chief
of staff of the Egyptian army Sami Anan, the second
highest-ranking figure in the military council is to testify

As the field marshal testified, a large group of people
-- mostly next of kin of those who died in the protest --
rallied outside shouting "Tantawi tell the truth, Is Mubarak a
killer or not".

Tantawi had been due to testify on September 11, but
failed to attend the session citing a crisis triggered by
demonstrators trying to storm the Israeli embassy in Cairo, a
move that forced the Jewish state to withdraw its ambassador.
Many Egyptians feared Tantawi would not testify.

The state news agency MENA quoted Tantawi as saying that
while military officers do not appear except at military
trials, he wanted to "assert the rule of law which must be the
guiding approach for the Egyptian state after the January 25

The lawyers of victims` families had demanded that the
Field Marshal testify because he had publicly said the army
rejected the use of force against protesters.


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