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Court to decide Mubarak's fate with retrial verdict

27 September 2014, 10:35

Cairo -An Egyptian court will rule Saturday in the murder retrial of Hosni Mubarak, whose 2011 overthrow unleashed almost four years of tumult capped by the election of another military man.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades, is accused alongside seven of his former police commanders of involvement in the killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that toppled him.

An appeals court overturned his initial life sentence on a technicality.

The same court will also deliver its verdict on corruption charges levelled against Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal.

Sitting at a police academy outside Cairo, the court will pronounce their fates in a different climate from the heady days that followed Mubarak's overthrow, which at the time seemed like a swingeing defeat of autocracy.

Mubarak's successor, the Islamist Mohamed Morsi, was himself overthrown by the military and imprisoned along with thousands of Islamists amid a widespread campaign tarring the 2011 uprising itself as a sinister plot to weaken Egypt, a faded regional power.

Morsi, imprisoned under his predecessor, is now on trial with other Islamists over acts of violence committed during the anti-Mubarak uprising.

Youth leaders who spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolt have been jailed for staging unauthorised protests after the June 2013 ouster of the divisive Morsi by army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Sisi, who won May's presidential election, has emphasised law and order at the expense of freedom to protest, a popular stance among Egyptians fed up with the chaos and economic ruin of their experiment with democracy.

The police force, which Mubarak is accused of ordering to quell the 2011 uprising, is now feted in the largely pro-government media as it wages a deadly crackdown on pro-Morsi Islamist protesters and militants.

'Justice in my life'

One newspaper editor, Ibrahim Eissa, a major dissident under Mubarak, testified at the retrial that it was perhaps foreign saboteurs and not police who were responsible for deadly violence during the uprising.

Mubarak's former interior minister and co-defendant Habib al-Adli, who had also been sentenced to life, accused Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian militants of attacking protesters during the uprising to besmirch the police.

Mubarak -- separately sentenced to three years in prison for corruption -- told the court that at the age of 86 he was approaching the end of his life "with a good conscience".

"The Hosni Mubarak before you would never have ordered the killings of protesters," he said in August in a lengthy speech that vaunted economic achievements many Egyptians now remember with nostalgia.

Most witnesses -- senior military and police officials who served under Mubarak -- testified in camera in the retrial that began in May 2013.

Their accounts were reportedly favourable to Mubarak.

Victims of the anti-Mubarak uprising fear the changing political tide might rob them of justice on Saturday.

"Now there is a wave of defamation against the revolution and the youths who led it," said Osama al-Meghazi.

On January 28 2011, after protesters in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria left a mosque, police opened fire with tear gas and shotguns, blowing off Meghazi's hand.

"It is important that I see justice in my life," he told AFP.

Gamal Eid, a rights lawyer who represented Mubarak's alleged victims in court, said he was not hopeful of a tough sentence against him or the police chiefs, six of whom were acquitted in the first trial in June 2012.

"I have no confidence, given the past rulings, either against the criminals of the Mubarak regime or the revolutionaries," said Eid.

"The trials follow the political climate."

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