Reporting from Cairo — A senior Egyptian police official was charged with perjury Wednesday after testifying in the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak that security forces did not use live ammunition against protesters in the revolution that overthrew the leader.
The decision by Judge Ahmed Refaat to charge the officer bolstered the prosecution, which over two days has been embarrassed by key witnesses who are said to have recanted earlier statements implicating Mubarak's regime. Families of hundreds of victims reportedly shot by police last winter fear that the deposed president, charged with complicity to commit murder, may be not be convicted.
An acquittal could trigger mass street protests with the country still struggling from months of turmoil.
Civil rights lawyers cheered when the judged detained Capt. Mohamed Abdel Hakim for alleged perjury. But it remained uncertain whether the prosecution could break the intense loyalty that security officials have for Mubarak and former Interior Minister Habib Adli.
The prosecution is attempting to prove that Mubarak ordered Interior Ministry forces to use live ammunition to crush protests from Jan. 25 to Feb. 11, when more than 800 people were killed. But the prosecution's five witnesses thus far have testified that they were aware of no such orders.