CAIRO — An Egyptian court on Saturday postponed its ruling until November in the retrial of former President Hosni Mubarak, charged with complicity in the killings of protesters during the 2011 revolt that led to his ouster.
Judge Mahmoud Kamel el-Rashid said the court is still working to complete its "justifications" in the case against Mubarak and others standing trial alongside him, indicating it had reached a verdict already.
"This is a case for the nation not a small dispute," he said in his opening remarks.
On a TV screen set up next to the defendants' cage where Mubarak sat in a wheelchair wearing sunglasses, the court showed a video of what it said were the case's 160,000 documents. El-Rashid said he wants to "assure citizens and defendants" that the court had thoroughly studied the case.
Mubarak — who was sentenced to life imprisonment for the same charges in 2012 before a judge ordered a retrial —was the first Arab ruler to be brought to court by his own people. Unlike in that first trial, however, reaction to the fate of Egypt's longest ruling leader in this case have so far been muted.For many, the 2011 protester killings were overtaken by a stunning political reversal last summer when Mubarak's successor, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, was overthrown by the army following mass protests against his rule.
"Mubarak is a history now," said Mohammed Zarie, a Cairo-based human rights lawyer. "For many people, Mubarak is not of interest," he added. Well-known Egyptian blogger The Big Pharaoh wrote of the trial: "Interest in this matter will barely go beyond Twitter."
The retrial opened in May 2013 and also included Mubarak's former interior minister and six former security generals. Mubarak, his two sons and others are also being tried in two small corruption cases.
A helicopter had ferried Mubarak from a military hospital to the courtroom. The stone-faced 86-year-old appeared in good condition, sitting between his two sons — onetime heir apparent Gamal, and wealthy businessman Alaa. Gamal whispered into his father's ear during the session.
When last the court convened, Mubarak addressed it for the first time regarding the case, saying in a 23-minute speech that he "would never order the killing of protesters."Following Morsi's ouster, which was led by former army chief and now President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, many of those who drove the anti-Mubarak uprising landed in prison or were been largely silenced by the current government's heavy-handed crackdown on dissent.
Morsi, who was the country's first elected president, hails from the Muslim Brotherhood — once Egypt's most organized opposition group and Mubarak's arch enemy. The military moved against Morsi after millions staged demonstrations demanding his resignation after just a year in office.
Authorities then launched a harsh crackdown on his supporters, leaving thousands dead, injured and in jail. Morsi and the Brotherhood's top leaders now face a series of proceedings against them, with charges that include treason and are punishable by the death sentence.
Secular-leaning activists, who steered the 2011 uprising against Mubarak, are not in a better position. Many of their leaders are either behind bars or fighting allegations they worked as "American agents." Many are starving themselves on hunger strike in protest of their imprisonment.
A draconian anti-protest law passed after Morsi's ouster has largely suffocated street demonstrations, ordering imprisonment and heavy fines those who gather without a police permit.