CAIRO - Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, accused of corruption and involvement in killing protesters, went on trial on Wednesday, delighting those who overthrew him and ringing an alarm bell for other autocrats around the Arab world.
In a scene that Egyptians would have found unthinkable just eight months ago, the man who ruled them for 30 years was wheeled behind the bars of a courtroom cage in a hospital bed to hear charges that could carry the death penalty. Mubarak is the first Arab leader to stand trial in person since popular uprisings swept the Middle East this year. His two sons, Alaa and Gamal, were also in the defendants’ cage, clutching copies of the holy Quran alongside former interior minister Habib al-Adli and six senior security officials.
“I entirely deny all those accusations,” said the 83-year-old former president after the prosecutor accused him of intending to kill peaceful protesters during an 18-day revolt that toppled him on February 11 and during the previous decade. The prosecutor also charged Mubarak with corruption and wasting public funds, and said he had authorised Adli to use live ammunition to quell demonstrations. About 850 people were killed during the unrest.