Hosni Mubarak to face trial for corruption and killings

FORMER president Hosni Mubarak, who held sway in Egypt for nearly 30 years, will go on trial on 3 August charged with corruption and ordering the killing of protesters.

His two sons - Gamel and Alaa - will be tried at the same time on charges of corruption.

Abdel-Aziz Omar, head of Egypt's court of appeals, was reported yesterday to have set a trial date that will put Mubarak and his sons in the dock six months after he was forced to transfer power to a military council on 11 February.

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Mubarak could face the death penalty if convicted. At least 846 protesters were killed during the 18-day revolt.

Since his fall, tens of thousands of people have joined protests calling for him to face justice.

"The trial is not taking place as part of a smooth judicial process, but only in response to heavy pressures," says Bahey-eldin Hassan, director of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

The case, however, marks the first time in modern history that an Arab leader has been put on trial by his own people. Iraq's leader Saddam Hussein was toppled during the 2003 invasion. He was captured by US forces and sentenced to death three years later by an Iraqi court under US supervision.

Mubarak's prosecution has been complicated by health concerns. He has been interrogated in hospital, but a plan to transfer him to prison was overturned on grounds the jail was not equipped to treat his ailments.

The charges state that he "conspired with the former security chief and other senior police officers" - already on trial - "to commit premeditated murder, along with attempted murder of those who participated in the peaceful protests around Egypt."

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