Mubarak, 83, is charged with complicity in the killing of more than 800 protesters during the uprising that toppled his 29-year regime last year.
The ailing former president was brought by helicopter to the Cairo courthouse from a hospital where he is held in custody. He was then taken into the defendants’ cage on a gurney, wearing dark sunglasses and covered by a green blanket.
Another Cairo court on Thursday acquitted five policemen of charges of killing five protesters in the capital’s el-Sayedah Zeinab district during last year’s uprising. The court said three of the defendants were not at the site of the killings, while the other two fired in self-defence.
The ruling angered families of the victims. Activists demanded that the killers be brought to justice and complained that similar cases are languishing in courts in several Egyptian cities.
On trial with Mubarak are his two sons – Gamal, his one-time heir apparent, and Alaa – plus the ousted leader’s former security chief and six top police commanders. The Mubaraks face additional corruption charges in the same case.
The acquittal of the police officers and the relatively long time the Mubarak trial is taking before even starting to deal with the core charges against him have led many activists to brand the proceedings a farce, organised by the generals who took over power when the long-time leader was ousted.
The generals are led by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s defence minister for the last 20 years he spent in office.