Egypt's ex-president murder trial resumes after three-month break
The murder trial of Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak resumed Wednesday after a three-month hiatus that saw the ousted strongman's fate eclipsed by deadly clashes and an Islamist election victory.
Mubarak risks the death sentence if he is found to have been complicit in the killings of some 850 people who died during protests that overthrew him in February.
The ailing former president, 83, arrived by ambulance at the Police Academy -- which once bore his name -- and was wheeled out by stretcher into the courthouse.
Around 5,000 policemen were deployed to secure the trial at the academy in the outskirts of Cairo, in coordination with the army.
Mubarak's two sons Alaa and Gamal, his former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six former security chiefs, defendants in the same case, also arrived in court.
Several pro-Mubarak supporters held banners of the former president, while families of the victims that died in protests carried pictures of their deceased relatives, a correspondent said.
"The trial is a sham and the gang still rules," the families chanted.
"We removed Mubarak, we got Hussein. To hell with both of them," they shouted in reference to Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak's longtime defence minister who is now running the country.
The trial came to a halt when lawyers asked that presiding judge Ahmed Refaat be replaced, a request that was subsequently rejected on December 7.
Mubarak's first hearing on August 3 was broadcast live on television, but Refaat soon ordered the cameras out.
The judge drew the ire of lawyers representing Mubarak's alleged victims after he issued a media gag order on testimony by high-profile witnesses, including Tantawi.
In statements after his testimony, Tantawi said Mubarak had never ordered the shooting of protesters.
Mubarak is the first leader to be toppled in the so-called Arab Spring uprisings to appear before a court.
Despite the media frenzy at the start of the case, his fate has since been overshadowed by deadly clashes between the army and people protesting against the military junta that took over when the long-time president resigned.
Attention was also diverted to the first post-revolution legislative elections which begun on November 28, in which Islamists have emerged as front-runners.
It is widely expected that the resumption of the trial will be merely procedural, with little discussion of the accusations against Mubarak.
But lawyers supporting the former president are hoping to clear his name.
Yussri Abdel Razek, who heads the defence committee -- which includes four Kuwaiti lawyers -- said Tuesday he had obtained "new documents that will prove Mubarak's innocence."
Mubarak resigned on February 11 after three decades of autocratic rule following a popular uprising in which more than 6,000 were also injured.
He is being held in a military hospital, where he receives treatment for a heart condition. His lawyer Farid al-Deeb says Mubarak suffers from stomach cancer.