Mubarak's trial could answer questions

By Hamza Hendawi

Associated Press

Published: Monday, Jan. 14 2013 11:13 p.m. MST

An Egyptian family leaves a ferry boat that is used by residents to cross the Nile river onto the Qursaya island, in Cairo, Egypt, Monday, Jan. 14, 2013. The Egyptian Armed Forces claims that it is the registered owner of the island's land, a claim disputed by the some 5,000 farmers and fishermen residents of the embattled island that have been resisting their eviction since 2007. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)

Associated Press

CAIRO — Hosni Mubarak's new trial may resolve key questions unanswered in his first one: Who ordered the crackdown that left some 900 protesters dead and who pulled the trigger?

But the answers could complicate the new president's efforts to stabilize Egypt and deal with its economic woes since they might bring pressure to go after still powerful figures in the security forces.

Mubarak and former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly were sentenced to life in prison in June for failing to prevent the killings during the 18-day revolution in 2011 that toppled the leader's 29-year regime. Standing trial with them were six police generals, five who faced the same charges, while the sixth was accused of gross negligence. All six were acquitted.

The ruling raised widespread public anger over what was seen as a shoddy prosecution case. Many believed Mubarak should have been convicted for directly ordering the lethal crackdown.

The presiding judge of that first trial said the prosecution's case lacked concrete evidence and failed to prove the protesters were killed by the police, indirectly giving credence to the testimony of top Mubarak-era officials that "foreigners" were behind the slayings between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, 2011.

Nearly 100 police officers have been brought to trial in a string of cases over the nearly two years since Mubarak's Feb. 11, 2011, ouster. All were acquitted or received suspended sentences on charges of killing and wounding protesters, a trend that has angered those behind the uprising who say authoritarian rule cannot truly be ended without dismantling what is left of the Mubarak regime, particularly in the large police force and pervasive security agencies.

On Sunday, Egypt's main appeals court overturned the life sentences against Mubarak and el-Adly and ordered a new trial for the two. It also granted the prosecution's request to overturn the acquittals of Mubarak, his two sons and an associate of the former president, Hussein Salem, on corruption charges. Salem was tried in absentia and remains at large. Six police generals who were found not guilty also will be tried again.

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