EGYPT: Mubarak denies accusations of killing protesters
Egyptian former President Hosni Mubarak has denied ordering police officers to kill protesters during the 18-day uprising that ended with his ouster Feb.11, according to interrogation transcripts leaked to the media.
Quotes from the questioning of Mubarak by prosecutors in April have appeared in Egyptian newspapers in recent days and offer a prelude to the former leader's defense when his trial on financial corruption and murder charges begins on Aug. 3. They come as protesters are camping out in Cairo's Tahrir Square, demanding that Mubarak and members of his regime be brought to swift justice.
"These accusations are not true at all. I would never participate in the killing of Egyptian citizens,'' Mubarak reportedly told investigators. ''I gave orders to deal with protesters without violence, peacefully, without the use of weapons, or bullets or even carrying weapons during the protests,'' he added.
A government fact finding committee issued a report in April that implicated Mubarak in the deaths of 846 protesters. The report said that even if he did not issue direct orders to shoot demonstrators, Mubarak did not prevent the killings, despite knowing that security officers were firing live ammunition at them. The 83-year-old former president has also been accused of amassing hundreds of millions of dollars in illegal bank accounts.
''I would never seize state money and I have never acquired anything illegally,'' Mubarak said in response to financial corruption charges.
Mubarak has been hospitalized in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh. He was interrogated there after reportedly suffering a heart attack April 13. Top members of his regime have repeatedly been blamed for instigating violence during the revolution.
On Thursday, a judiciary panel said an investigation was underway of allegations that Safwat Sherif, the former speaker of the upper house of Parliament, was the mastermind behind the Feb. 2 attack in Tahrir Square in which thugs riding camels and horses stormed protesters in one of the uprising's bloodiest days.
The state news agency MENA reported that Sherif, who was also general secretary for the former ruling National Democratic Party, orchestrated the assault with the help of other party members by paying thousands of thugs to storm the square.
-- Amro Hassan in Cairo
Photo: Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak. Credit: Associated Press