Lawyers blame police, Mubarak for Egypt deaths

Last Updated: Monday, January 9, 2012 - 20:42

Cairo: Lawyers for victims` families in the
trial of ousted president Hosni Mubarak charged that Egyptian
police were ordered to use lethal fire against protesters in
the revolt which brought him down.

The ailing, 83-year-old Mubarak lay on a stretcher in the
defendants` cage at the trial in which the prosecution has
called for him to be hanged for the killing of hundreds of
demonstrators in the January-February 2011 revolt.

Sameh Ashour, lead counsel for victims` families in the
Cairo trial, submitted official documents which he said showed
that 160 police officers had been armed with automatic weapons
and 4,800 live rounds.

The lawyer also showed a report from the Central Security
Forces that four units, each made up of 50 policemen, had been
supplied with automatic weapons and ammunition.

A speech by Mubarak on January 28, three days after the
outbreak of the unrest, amounted to "implicit recognition of
the use of force against demonstrators," according to Ashour.

Mubarak said he had given instructions for police "to
protect the demonstrations... before they turn into riots."

Lawyers for civil plaintiffs have until Tuesday to
present their case before the defence takes its turn, after
the prosecution last week urged the court to sentence the
fallen strongman to hang.

"The law punishes premeditated murder with execution. The prosecution demands the maximum punishment," Mustafa Khater
told the presiding judge, Ahmed Refaat.

Mubarak, detained in a military hospital where he is
being treated for a heart condition, is on trial along with
seven former security chiefs. The defence is to argue their
innocence.

Chief prosecutor Mustafa Suleiman told the court that
Mubarak must have ordered police to open fire on protesters
during the 18-day uprising that ended his three-decade rule on
February 11, leaving more than 850 dead.

Essam el-Batawy, a defence lawyer, said the
prosecution`s closing arguments were based, in part, on
statements from witnesses they had questioned during their
investigation who had not taken the stand.

"They used partial quotes from their testimony," he said.

"We will insist on listening to these witnesses in court,"
saying they will be called to testify.

Mubarak went to trial on August 3, after protesters
stepped up demonstrations calling on the ruling military to
try him and other former regime officials.

None of the police witnesses summoned by the prosecution
has directly implicated Mubarak.

PTI

First Published: Monday, January 9, 2012 - 20:42

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