Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- An Egyptian court said it will decide in June whether former President Hosni Mubarak is guilty of complicity in the killing of hundreds of protesters, as a seven-month trial that riveted and angered Egyptians drew to a close.
Speaking from inside the defendant’s cage and lying on a hospital gurney, Mubarak said he was satisfied with what his lawyer had said previously in his defense, the official Middle East News agency reported. He faces charges of complicity in the killing of more than 800 protesters during the 18-day uprising that led to his ouster last February. He and his two sons, heir- apparent Gamal and businessman Alaa, also face charges of corruption.
The Cairo criminal court trying Mubarak, his two sons, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adli and several others set June 2 as the date for a ruling in the case. Earlier, el-Adli blamed “foreign elements” for the deaths of protesters, in a speech to the court.
The slow pace of the trial and the antics of lawyers on both sides of the court have come to symbolize for many Egyptians the challenges of moving the country along the path of democratic reform and accountability following nearly three decades of Mubarak’s rule. The unrest of the past year has also stifled economic growth as tourists and foreign investors shun the Arab world’s most populous country.
Foreign reserves are down by more than a half, from $36 billion at the end of December 2010, and the country faces currency devaluation pressures that may be temporarily averted through an expected $3.2 billion International Monetary Fund loan.
While Mubarak and his sons declined to address the court, el-Adli spoke for over 90 minutes, extolling his accomplishments since assuming the post as head of the country’s security forces in November 1997. The former minister denied any orders had been given to shoot at demonstrators. Instead, he blamed what he said were “foreign elements and saboteurs” that sought to turn a peaceful gathering into one that turned bloody, MENA reported.
--Editors: Digby Lidstone, Andrew Atkinson.
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