Court sets date for Mubarak retrial over uprising deaths

Egypt’s ousted president Hosni Mubarak will face a new trial beginning on April 13 on charges related to the killings of protesters during the uprising against him, a court has ruled.

Mubarak and his former interior minister were sentenced to life in prison in June for failing to prevent the killing of protesters during the 18-day revolution in 2011 that ended his 29-year rule. In January, an appeals court overturned the sentences and ordered a retrial.

Mubarak, 84, has been in detention since April 2011 and is currently being held in a military hospital. It is thought unlikely that he will be freed before his retrial.

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The ruling ordering a retrial raised public anger over what was seen as a shoddy prosecution case. Critics believed Mubarak should have been convicted for directly ordering the deadly crackdown and sentenced to death.

The issue of the revolution’s dead is a sensitive one in Egypt, with the families of the victims demanding retribution and compensation. Mubarak’s successor, Mohammed Morsi, promised during his election campaign that he would order retrials for former regime officials if new evidence was discovered.

A retrial could help resolve unanswered questions over who ordered the crackdown and who executed it. Most of the security officials on separate trials for the killings of protesters were acquitted.

In January, the appeals court ruled that during Mubarak’s first trial, the prosecution’s case lacked concrete evidence and failed to prove the protesters were killed by the police, indirectly giving credence to the testimony of top Mubarak-era officials that “foreigners” and others were behind the killings between January 25 and February 1, 2011. Critics scoffed at those charges, blaming Mubarak’s police and sympathisers.

Authors of a recently concluded confidential report by a fact-finding mission appointed by Morsi say they have established the use of deadly firearms by the police against protesters.

Yesterday, Judge Samir Aboul-Maati said the retrial before a criminal court would also include six other senior security officials who were acquitted in the first trial. Mubarak’s two sons and a business associate will also be retried on corruption charges. The sons, one-time heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa, are in jail while on trial for insider trading and using their influence to buy state land at a fraction of its market value.

The business associate, Hussein Salem, was tried in absentia. He is currently in Spain.