Thursday, September 29, 2011

Military junta chief fails to testify at Mubarak trial

Arab News
Tantawi fails to testify at Mubarak trial

Sept. 11, 2011


CAIRO: Egypt's military ruler and one-time confidant of Hosni Mubarak failed Sunday to attend a court session in which he was expected to offer highly anticipated testimony about the former president's alleged role in the death of protesters.

Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi was asked to return to court on Sept. 24.

A report on Egyptian State TV did not give a reason for Tantawi's absence in court, but a defense lawyer said the head of the military council told the court he was dealing with the fallout after the storming of the Israeli Embassy in Cairo on Friday by mobs of protesters.

The delay is a major disappointment for Egyptians impatient to have Mubarak-era officials pressed for details on the inner workings of the regime. The court has asked Tantawi and other former regime insiders to take the stand in the Mubarak trial.

Assem Qandil, a lawyer for one of the defendants tried along with Mubarak, said Tantawi notified the court in a written statement that he could not show up because of the tensions after the embassy assault.

Thousands of Egyptians working in the Kingdom have been following the Cairo trials with interest. Saeed Yahya, a prominent member of the Egyptian community in Jeddah, said more than 800 people had lost their lives as a result of security crackdown on anti-government protesters in January. "This is the reason many Egyptians, especially relatives and friends of the victims, are interested in these trials," he told Arab News.

Abul Ala Murtadha, a lawyer, said the trial would take a long time because of the large number of defendants. "People are interested in following this trial because it involves judicial action against top officials of the previous regime," he added.

Dr. Ala Hejab, a physician, said people do not have any sympathy for the accused in the "camel battleground" case as all of them are corrupt.

Most Egyptians contacted by Arab News expressed their hope that the trials would be conducted quickly in order to bring peace and stability to the country.

*Galal Fakkar contributed reporting

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