Hosni Mubarak, in court, denies he ordered protesters killed in 2011 uprising
Egypt's deposed President Hosni Mubarak yesterday denied that he ordered protesters killed during the 2011 uprising that deposed him, his first lengthy statement to a court as his year-old retrial draws to an end.
Speaking from a stretcher inside a cage that holds defendants, Mubarak, 86, described his 29-year rule as one that stabilised the country, a theme employed during his last days in power as the popular revolt against him grew and he resisted calls to step down.
"Hosni Mubarak speaking to you today would never order the killing of protesters or shedding the blood of Egyptians," the former autocrat said in a speech where he appeared at times sympathetic but also defiant.
"I voluntarily chose to give up my responsibility as president to prevent bloodshed and to preserve national unity, for Egypt not to slip into a dangerous path toward the unknown," he added, wearing a blue prison uniform and with reddened eyes.
Mubarak was found guilty in June 2012 of failing to stop the killing of more than 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising and was sentenced to life imprisonment, but his conviction was overturned in January 2013.
Prosecutors appealed against that decision, and a retrial began in April 2013.
Standing trial along with Mubarak were his security chief Habib el-Adly, who was convicted and sentenced to life in prison on the same charges, as well as six of Adly's top aides. All six were acquitted in the earlier trial.
The final verdict will be issued on September 27, the judge said.
Police forces collapsed in the first days of the uprising, when protesters stormed police stations across the country and burned police vehicles after street clashes with security forces turned deadly.
Since the revolt, more than 170 policemen and security officials have been put on trial, but all were acquitted either for lack of evidence or on the grounds that the police acted in self-defence.
Mubarak said the 2011 protests began peacefully but were taken over by "exploiters of religion inside and outside the country" who steered the demonstrations towards violence.