Egypt’s ex-president Hosni Mubarak, wheeled into a Cairo courtroom in a hospital bed, has pleaded not guilty to charges that he ordered the death of hundreds of anti-government protesters. After Wednesday’s dramatic session, the judge in the case adjourned the trial until August 15.
News channels around the world broadcast the start of Mr. Mubarak’s historic trial in Cairo. The former president, who also is charged with corruption, is the first Arab leader to face a court in person since the so-called “Arab Spring” of popular uprisings swept across much of North Africa and the Middle East this year.
Across Cairo, Egyptians gathered around televisions set up in cafes and doorways, seeing their ruler of nearly 30 years clad in a prisoner’s white robes and reclining on a hospital bed inside the courtroom’s large cage for defendants.
Crowds also gathered outside the courthouse to watch the trial on a large television screen. At one point, supporters and opponents of Mr. Mubarak threw stones at one another.
Mr. Mubarak is accused of ordering the killing of nearly 900 people during the 18-day uprising for democratic reforms that led to his resignation in February. If convicted, he could be sentenced to death. He also is charged with corruption, abuse of power and squandering public wealth.
Mr. Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal, also are on trial. They stood next to their father and spoke with him during the opening session. Both men denied the charges against them.
Other defendants who went on trial Wednesday include Mr. Mubarak’s former interior minister , six police commanders and a prominent businessman , who is being tried in absentia. They are scheduled to appear before the court again Thursday.
Egypt’s judiciary moved the location of the trial to the Cairo Police Academy for security reasons.
The former president had been living under house arrest with his family at the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, where aides say he has been in poor health since leaving office. At the close of Wednesday’s session, the judge ordered that Mr. Mubarak stay at a local hospital in Cairo for the duration of the proceedings.