Egypt`s military ruler summoned in Mubarak trial

Mubarak is being tried on charges of corruption and conspiring to order the killing of unarmed demonstrators in his final days in power.

Cairo: The chief judge in the criminal trial
of Hosni Mubarak has summoned high-profile witnesses,
including Egypt`s military ruler Field Marshal Hussein
Tantawi, to testify in court, a move which could bare the
interim regime`s intentions on the fate of the ousted

The judge, Ahmed Refaat, set September 11 as the date for
Tantawi to appear in the court, Pan-Arab news channel
Al-Arabia reported.

Refaat also summoned the Army`s Chief of Staff Sami Anan;
Omar Suleiman, Mubarak`s former intelligence chief who was
also Vice President for a brief period, and Interior Minister
Mansur al-Essawy.

Suleiman had disappeared from public view after
mid-February when he made the televised announcement that
Mubarak was surrendering power.

But in an extraordinary step, the judge stipulated that
the three key men in Egypt would testify under the strictest
secrecy. Not only did he order a closed session for their
testimony, he also placed news organisations under strict
constraints about what they could report.

The summoning of the military junta troika, the New York
Times reported from Cairo, had sharpened doubts about whether
the court is acting independently or cooperating with the
ousted President`s former allies.

The paper said the trial had almost degenerated into
a soap opera, opening with dramatic images of the former
President lying on a gurney behind bars in the prisoner`s dock
and then descending into a confusion of questionable
testimony, an apparent reference to change of testimony by a
police witness.

Mubarak is being tried on charges of corruption and
conspiring to order the killing of unarmed demonstrators in
his final days in power.

The three witnesses including Tantawi, who is virtually
de-facto President of the country, may prove crucial for the
fallen President as they were within Mubarak`s inner circle at
that time.

Al-Arabiya said it was not clear whether the two
officers, Field Marshal Tantawi and General Anan, had
volunteered to testify.

Anan will give evidence on Monday and Omar Suleiman on
Tuesday behind closed doors, Judge Ahmed Refaat said.

Current Interior Minister Mansur al-Essawi and his
predecessor Mahmud Wagdi will testify on September 14 and 15
respectively, he added.

Refaat said he had decided to hear the high-profile
witnesses in camera for reasons of "national security."
Lawyers acting for the families of those killed during
the popular uprising that forced Mubarak out of power in
February had repeatedly requested that the court hear the
testimony of the five.


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