CAIRO – Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak appeared in court on Saturday to face a new trial for complicity in the murder of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising, as well as for corruption.
The 85-year-old Mubarak, who was taken into court in a wheelchair dressed in white and wearing sunglasses, is on trial along with his former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, and six security chiefs.
He also faces corruption charges with his two sons, Alaa and Gamal.
All defendants pleaded “not guilty” to the charges levelled against them.
Amid a raucous start to proceedings, lawyers for the victims’ families taunted Alaa and Gamal, as they stood in the dock with chants of “The people want the execution of the murderer.”
But the Mubaraks appeared unfazed by the chants, as the judge struggled to keep control of the courtroom with lawyers clambering to the front to speak.
Mubarak was granted a retrial after his appeal against a life sentence was accepted due to procedural failings the first time round.
The retrial was meant to begin on April 13, but the judge in that instance recused himself in a hearing that lasted just seconds.
At Saturday’s hearing, Judge Mahmoud al-Rashidi issued an emotional appeal for order, telling the court he understood their “frustration” with the process.
He confirmed that there would be new evidence presented in the case, which now includes 55,000 pages of documents and adjourned the hearing to June 8.
Outside the court, a handful of victims’ families and Mubarak supporters had turned up amid a heavy security presence.
Sanaa Said, who lost her 20-year-old son during the uprising, said she will keep fighting for justice, though like many, she has become dispirited by the process.
“I am clinging on to hope even though I think if the trial were real, we would have seen a result,” by now, she told AFP.
A few metres away, Nagah Mubarak held up a sign that read “Freedom for the President.”
Egyptians remain polarised by the legacy of the former leader, as the country struggles to move forward under the new regime of Islamist President Mohamed Morsi, elected in June.
Today Egypt remains in disarray, with Morsi’s tenure marked by political division, repeated violence and a crippling economic crisis.
Umm Moaz, who lost her son during the uprising, said she sees Mubarak’s new trial as a sham and have given up on justice ever being served.
On January 28, 2011, her 20-year-old son Moaz was killed during the “Friday of Anger” protests in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
She has demonstrated outside court throughout the proceedings against Mubarak, whose first trial started nearly two years ago.
“At this time, I don’t trust anyone, not even the court overseeing the retrial. I have no hope that they will ensure justice for my son or any martyr. My whole life has been turned upside down,” she told AFP.
The ousted leader was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison last June for involvement in the deaths of 846 people during the Egyptian revolution.
But Egypt’s highest court ordered a retrial after it accepted Mubarak’s appeal on grounds of procedural failings.
Supporters of the former regime have also taken to the streets.
Soraya Hanafi still believes Mubarak was a great leader.
“After two years, I really want to hear the arguments of the victims’ lawyers and what they will say. What new evidence will they use to retry Mubarak? And what are his sons guilty of? They didn’t kill anyone or give orders to kill,” Hanafi said.
Last month, Mubarak was transferred to prison from a military hospital after the public prosecutor ordered the move because his health was deemed stable.
After months of rumours that Mubarak was at death’s door, footage of him looking strong and defiant and waving at supporters in court had stunned many.
These are the words of the leader of the most patriotic coup which some people have the good or bad conscience to call an Igbo coup. I am proud of Major Chukwuma Nzeogwu, prouder that he was a black man and proudest that he was an Igbo man! Because of Ironsi’s intellectual timidity and the fact that he was not a revolutionary, he failed to save Nigeria when he had the opportunity to do so.