A supporter of Egypt's ousted president, Hosni Mubarak, takes part… (Khalil Hamra / Associated…)
CAIRO — The retrial of former president Hosni Mubarak was postponed Saturday until June 8 after prosecutors told a Cairo criminal court that they intend to present new evidence of his responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that toppled him in 2011.
Wearing brown-tinted shades and a white training suit, Mubarak, who also faces corruption charges, appeared in court for the hearing alongside his former interior minister, Habib Adli, and six ministry aides, as well as his sons Gamal and Alaa. The latter also are accused of financial corruption. Businessman Hussein Salem, currently in Spain, is also implicated.
Yousry Abdelrazek, the chief attorney of Mubarak’s volunteer defense team, questioned the veracity of the prosecution’s claims of having uncovered new evidence.
PHOTOS: Mubarak over the years
“What is this new evidence? A fact-finding committee’s report?” Abdelrazek said. “That’s not right because a report is just a compilation of investigations, and doesn’t rise up to the level of actual proof.”
The retrial was ordered in January after an appeals court overturned convictions and life sentences for Mubarak and Adli. The Islamist-led government of President Mohamed Morsi welcomed a second trial as a chance to win tougher sentences against Mubarak and the others.
The lack of sufficient evidence corroborating Mubarak's direct implication in the deaths of protesters had Judge Ahmed Refaat sentence Mubarak and Adli to life in prison, rather than death, last June for failing to prevent the death of protesters. The defense’s appeal was accepted on grounds of procedural errors in the original trial, which had started in August 2011.
Families of victims had continuously accused the criminal court and Egypt’s then-rulers, the supreme military council, of purposefully prolonging the case to avoid dealing with the aftermath of a verdict, whatever the outcome.
In April, the case was postponed after Judge Mustafa Hassan Abdullah recused himself from presiding over the trial.
“Legally they should be acquitted, but for the sake of appearances there will be some form of condemnation,” Abdelrazek said. “You can smell the political vengeance surrounding this case.”
The defense lawyer added that the truth about lives lost during the 2011 protests eventually will surface.
Standing behind iron bars in the courtroom Saturday, the defendants all pleaded not guilty to the charges against them.
“It’s the same scenario, memories repeating themselves,” said Yasser Abdelaal, whose brother was killed by police gunfire on Jan. 28, 2011. “[The defendants] did the same thing on Aug. 3 during the original trial and pled not guilty.”
Abdelaal, however, said he is optimistic about the trial’s outcome “this time specifically.” He added though that nothing short of capital punishment would satisfy him.
“Justice will not come to be except if Mubarak and Adli, and the Interior Ministry aides of course, are executed,” he said. “We saw what happened during the revolution with our own eyes. The Interior Ministry and police were like wild, ferocious dogs who did not look at us like we are human beings.”
Dozens of the former president’s supporters and opponents had gathered outside the police academy in New Cairo, where the hearing took place, to voice their distinctly different demands. Many victims’ families carried signs calling for Mubarak's execution.
Security was reinforced around the academy to keep protester camps at a safe distance from one another. Citing an Interior Ministry official, the Middle East News Agency reported that the day’s security plans included more than 3,000 police from different ministry divisions, as well as 25 armored vehicles.
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