REPORTING FROM CAIRO -- The lawyer for deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak said Wednesday that police officials could not have ordered the killing of more 800 protesters during last year's revolution because the former leader had put the army in charge of security.
During the second day of his argument in an Egyptian court, defense lawyer Farid Deeb said maverick police officers along with "infiltrators" and militants could have been behind the killings after the army assumed control of the nation's security on Jan. 28.
"Mubarak used his constitutional power and issued an order imposing a curfew across Egypt, and put the army in charge of security from 16:00 on 28 January," Deeb said. "Therefore, it doesn’t make sense that police ordered the killing of protesters. The police did not have the jurisdiction or authority to issue any orders since the authority has been transferred to the head of the army."
Deeb referred to earlier testimony by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces, and former Vice President Omar Suleiman that the army had not given any orders to shoot demonstrators.
Deeb did not contradict those versions. He argued that Mubarak, who could face the death penalty on charges that he was complict in the killing of protesters, did not order his police forces to open fire on demonstrators.
"The army's duty is to protect people and property.... So the question is who killed and caused the injuries. This is the main point of the case," Deeb said.
During Wednesday's hearing, Deeb described Mubarak as a "merciful" man who did his best to allow peaceful protests. Prosecutors have argued that Mubarak, 83, ordered his former interior minister, Habib Adli, to crack down on the uprising that ultimately swept him from power.
Prosecutors say that as president, Mubarak was responsible for actions by both the police and the army.
The case was adjourned till Thursday.
Photo: Protesters shout slogans and hold pictures in support of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak during his trial in Cairo on Jan. 12, 2012. Mubarak's defense lawyer, Farid Deeb, continued his closing arguments for a second day. Credit: Khaled Elfiqi/European Pressphoto Agency.