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Mubarak killed the nation
21 Feb 2012

CAIRO — The chief prosecutor in the trial of ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak said in his closing remarks yesterday that the former president should be given the death penalty for the killings of protesters in last year’s uprising.

Mustafa Suleiman said Mubarak, who ruled over the Arab world’s most populous country for nearly 30 years, clearly authorised use of live ammunition and a shoot-to-kill policy against peaceful protesters.

According to government estimates, about 850 people were killed in the crackdown from January 25 to February 11, 2011.

For this, Suleiman told the presiding judges, Mubarak and five co-defendants, including long-time Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and four former top security officers, should receive the maximum sentence.

“This is not a case about the killing of one or 10 or 20 civilians, but a case of an entire nation,” he said.

Listening attentively to the closing remarks, the 83-year-old Mubarak sat upright in his hospital bed in the courtroom cage. His son Gamal and one-time heir apparent was seen in the defendants cage whispering into his father’s ear from time to time.

His elder son, Alaa, held a copy of the Quran and paced around nervously in the defendants’ cage, wringing his hands throughout much of the prosecution’s remarks.

Both sons are facing corruption charges in the same trial.

Lawyers for the victims applauded when Suleiman said that Mubarak did not simply resign, but was ousted by popular will and toppled.

He said that the historic case had entered its final stages and was “the concern of all Egyptians”.

In previous remarks to the court, Suleiman said the decision to use live ammunition was taken on January 27 last year, just before the military was called to the streets on the evening of the most violent day of the 18-day uprising that forced Mubarak to step down on February 11.

On Wednesday, Suleiman pointed to two of Mubarak’s speeches during the unrest, in which the former president called on authorities to protect the people. The chief prosecutor said this was further proof that protesters were under attack.

The defence team of the former president is expected to present its closing arguments tomorrow, the same day that the presiding judge will announce a date for the verdict.

It will also be the first time that the defendants are allowed to speak in response to the charges since they pleaded not guilty.

The landmark trial of Mubarak, his two sons and eight other defendants has been bogged down by lengthy delays, muddled testimonies and complicated procedural issues.

Many in Egypt worry that the generals who took power after Mubarak — and who owed their positions to him — have no interest in convicting him.

In court yesterday, Suleiman defended the investigation conducted by the state prosecutor’s office, saying that it had to launch its own probe after security authorities ignored the prosecution’s requests for help in the inquiry.

Prosecutors said they interviewed hundreds of witnesses, physicians and police officers to build their case.

Judge Ahmed Rifaat, overseeing the case, praised the prosecution for how it handled the investigation, despite attempts to “tinker with it”.

In separate charges of corruption in the same trial, Mubarak and three co-defendants, including his two sons, are accused of involvement in the sale of gas to Israel below market price, leading to more than $2 billion (R15,34 billion) in financial loss to Egypt. — Sapa-AP

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