Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak arrived in court Saturday for the verdict in his murder retrial over the deaths of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising that unseated him.
The 86-year-old was wheeled into the caged dock on an upright stretcher, dressed in his trademark shades and wearing the blue clothes of a convict.
He was flown to the court in a Cairo suburb by helicopter from a military hospital.
If acquitted, Mubarak would not be released because he is serving a three-year sentence in a separate corruption case, a judicial official said ahead of the verdict.
Seven of his former security commanders also stand accused in connection with the demonstrator deaths.
The court will also rule on corruption charges against Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal.
Mubarak was overthrown in February 2011 after an 18-day uprising, ending his three-decade rule and ushering in a period of turmoil that eventually led to the ouster of his Islamist successor Mohamed Morsi last year.
An appeals court overturned an initial life sentence for Mubarak in 2012 on a technicality.
The new verdict was initially scheduled for September 27, but chief judge Mahmud Kamel al-Rashidi postponed it, saying he had not finished writing the reasoning after a retrial that saw thousands of case files presented.
Security was beefed up around the court at the sprawling police academy on the outskirts of Cairo, with 5,000 police deployed, the official MENA news agency reported, citing a senior official.
The sons, Alaa and Gamal, also arrived at the court ahead of the verdict, along with co-accused former interior minister Habib al-Adly, a government spokesman told AFP.
Saturday’s verdict comes as the revolutionary fervour that unseated Mubarak has largely ebbed across the country.
Mubarak’s Islamist successor Mohamed Morsi was himself removed last year by then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who is now president, and put on trial along with hundreds of other Islamists.
Morsi and several top leaders of his Muslim Brotherhood movement are accused of committing acts of violence during the anti-Mubarak uprising as well as during huge anti-Morsi protests which prompted the army to remove him.
– Crackdown –
Several top left-leaning youth activists who led the campaign against Mubarak have also been jailed by the authorities for staging unauthorised protests after the June 2013 overthrow of the divisive Morsi.
Sisi, who won a presidential election in May after crushing his Islamist opponents, has made law and order and economic stability his top priorities rather than democratic freedoms — the key demand during the anti-Mubarak uprising.
The police force, which Mubarak is accused of ordering to quell the 2011 uprising, is now feted in the largely pro-government media as it wages a deadly crackdown on pro-Morsi Islamist protesters and militants.
At least 1,400 people have been killed in the crackdown, with scores of soldiers and policemen dying in militant attacks.
Mubarak told the retrial in August that he was nearing the end of his life “with a good conscience”.
“The Hosni Mubarak before you would never have ordered the killings of protesters,” he said.
Mubarak’s former interior minister Adly accused the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian militants of attacking protesters during the 2011 uprising to malign the police.
During the retrial which opened in May 2013, most witnesses — senior military and police officers under Mubarak — have given testimony seen as favourable to the former leader.