CAIRO: A court postponed on Monday the trial of Egypt’s former interior minister over the killing of protesters until next week so that he will be tried alongside ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
The ruling followed a weekend of clashes involving protesters demanding swifter reforms and faster prosecution of Mubarak and his officials after February’s revolution.
Many Egyptians believe the army is reluctant to speed up the trial of Mubarak, its former commander-in-chief, and say it wants to prevent his public humiliation. They also accuse the army of foot-dragging in other reforms.
Hundreds of protesters hurled stones at a convoy of vans taking Egypt’s once-feared interior minister Habib Al-Adly from court on Monday after the judge delayed his murder trial.
“Why did they postpone the trial today? We are tired of this never-ending postponement. The son of my brother died in the revolution; who will give us our rights … if the court keeps postponing trials of those who killed him?” asked Mohamed Abdou, who was outside the court.
Judge Adel Abdel-Salam ordered that the trial of Habib Al-Adly be postponed to Aug. 3 so it is “joined with the case related to the trial of the former President Hosni Mubarak”, adding that the evidence and charges were the same. Six others also involved in the Al-Adly case will stand trial on the same day.
Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, have been charged with a role in the killing of demonstrators. More than 840 died in the 18-day uprising that ousted the president on Feb. 11.
Mubarak, 83, has been in hospital since April, when he was first questioned. Judicial and security sources told Reuters this month his trial might take place in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh where he is in hospital, and not in Cairo.
His two sons are being held in a prison on Cairo’s outskirts.
Al-Adly, who stood in a cage in court where defendants are put during Monday’s hearing, is reviled by protesters after the police force he commanded used live ammunition, teargas and water cannon to try to break up protests against Mubarak.
“According to me, I am against the postponement. Why take all this time?” said Foad Kamal, who works in a supermarket chain. He had come to the court expecting a verdict.
If convicted, Mubarak, 83, and el-Adly and the six others could face the death penalty.
Monday’s hearing was broadcast live by state television, allowing millions of Egyptians to see Al-Adly and his co-defendants in detention for the first time.
El-Adly already is serving a 12-year sentence for corruption. He was in charge of Egypt’s 500,000-strong police force, some of whom are blamed for the worst human rights abuses during Mubarak’s 29-year-rule. He wore a blue prison suit.
Monday’s hearing at a Cairo court was chaotic, with lawyers and relatives of victims pushing and shouting in the courtroom, prompting the judge to threaten to throw everyone out of the courtroom.