Mubarak faces questioning over protester crackdown

Egypt`s public prosecutor summoned Mubarak to probe into killing of protesters and alleged corruption.

Cairo: Egypt`s public prosecutor on Sunday ordered ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his sons to be questioned over violence against protesters and alleged corruption, MENA state news agency reported.

The announcement came after the broadcast of an audio tape in which the former president defended his reputation and after weeks of mounting protests calling for him to be put on trial.

"The public prosecutor Abdel Magid Mahmud decided today to ask for the questioning of former president Hosni Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa," the official news agency reported.

Mubarak and his sons will be questioned about allegations and legal complaints that they were "connected to the crimes of assault against protesters, leading to deaths and injuries," MENA said.

He would also be quizzed on allegations of graft, it added.

An estimated 800 people were killed in clashes with police and the former president`s supporters during weeks of protests that led to Mubarak`s resignation on February 11.

Sunday`s announcement came hours after pan-Arab television network Al-Arabiya aired Mubarak`s first comments since he stepped down following weeks of anti-regime protests.

In the audio message, the 82-year-old complained he was the victim of a smear campaign.

He pledged his assistance in a probe of his family`s foreign assets, but his defiance in threatening lawsuits against the media angered Egyptians who have been pressing for his trial.

MENA reported that the interior ministry has been asked to undertake the necessary security measures so Mubarak and his sons can be summoned.

After he resigned, Mubarak and his family moved to a residence in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, and although he faced a travel ban, his relative freedom remained a thorn in the side of the military rulers.

Weekly protests demanding Mubarak`s trial have attracted tens of thousands and eventually led to a deadly clash with soldiers early on Saturday morning after they tried to clear an overnight demonstration in Cairo`s Tahrir Square.

Defiant protesters, who accused the military of complicity with the former president, remain in the square although the military had pledged to disperse them, raising fears of further clashes.

The protesters, who blocked the square with a charred army truck, barbed wire and beams, chanted slogans against military chief Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who has been in charge since Mubarak`s ouster.

"The people demand the toppling of the field marshal," they chanted, after spending a nervous night waiting for the army to follow through with its threat to enforce a three-hour pre-dawn curfew.

The military acknowledged that one person died on Saturday night from a gunshot wound but denied it used force or live ammunition to disperse the protesters.

Despite its threat to remove the protesters, whom it called outlaws, the military backed down on early Sunday morning in a sign that it wished to avoid further confrontations.
The clash has put the military on the defensive.

It is widely popular for not cracking down on protesters when it was called to the streets during the revolt that ousted Mubarak, but has faced increasing criticism for not putting Mubarak in the dock and for alleged rights abuses.

The military has announced the appointment of a panel to investigate the former president, but has been criticised for delays in holding him and other former regime officials to account.

The judiciary has accelerated its probes and remands of former regime officials.

After announcing that Mubarak would be summoned for questioning, news broke that his former prime minister Ahmed Nazif has been detained for 15 days on suspicion of corruption.

Mubarak`s son Gamal, once seen as the anointed heir, has already been summoned by a panel for questioning on alleged corruption.

The same justice ministry panel has ordered Mubarak`s former chief of staff Zakaria Azmi to be detained for 15 days, also on corruption charges.

Bureau Report

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