REPORTING FROM CAIRO -- Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who faces charges in the killings of more than 800 protesters during the revolution last year, will hear his verdict in June.
The Cairo criminal court set the date of June 2 to read out the verdict for Mubarak, his two sons, his former Interior minister and six of his aides. The closely watched case that began last August, dubbed the "trial of the century" by Egyptian media, came to a close Wednesday as the final hearing ended.
Mubarak, former Interior Minister Habib Adli and the aides were charged in the deaths of protesters, while the former president's sons face charges of corruption and abuse of power. Prosecutors have requested the death penalty for Mubarak.
Defendants were given a chance to address the court after their lawyers gave closing arguments. Mubarak declined and spoke only some words of a famous Arabic poem, including the line: "My country, even if unjust, is dear to me."
Adli, however, spoke for nearly two hours, trying to "give a true statement of the course of events" to add to his attorneys' legal argument.
Adli, who was already sentenced to 12 years in jail for financial corruption last May, stressed that he gave no orders to shoot protesters during the revolt, blaming foreign infiltrators working for Hezbollah and Hamas for killing protesters in order to create havoc across Egypt.
"Police forces were committed to using universally known means of confronting peaceful protests," Adli said, arguing that tear gas was the maximum use of force against protesters hurling stones and Molotov cocktails. He also denied that he was behind Internet cutoffs in January and February 2011.
During the Wednesday hearing, Judge Ahmed Refaat also received a confirmation that the Tora prison hospital is sufficiently equipped to receive Mubarak. The ousted president, who underwent surgery to remove a tumor in Germany in 2010, claims his condition is too serious to be moved to a prison hospital. Mubarak has been entering all court hearings on a stretcher.
Refaat, who previously ordered that Mubarak stay at the International Medical Centre on the outskirts of Cairo, did not order moving Mubarak to the prison hospital, saying that the court will discuss the matter and make a final decision. The ousted president has remained at the medical center until now.
Refaat also announced that local and international media will be allowed to cover the reading of the verdict in June. Media have been banned from entering the hearings since October.
-- Amro Hassan
Photo: Egyptian demonstrators opposed to former President Hosni Mubarak pose in front of a mock gallows Wednesday while riot policemen provide security outside the Cairo courtroom where Mubarak faces trial. Credit: Marco Longari / Agence France-Presse