One of Egypt's most feared government ministers on Tuesday pleaded innocent to charges of ordering the killing of unarmed protesters during the Jan. 25 uprising that ousted longtime President Hosni Mubarak.
Former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly could face a death sentence if convicted.
His trial, along with six of his top aides, opened at a courthouse in a Cairo suburb amid tight security. Some 1,000 relatives and friends of the nearly 850 Egyptians killed in the protests demonstrated outside the courthouse demanding el-Adly and his aides be hanged for their alleged crimes.
Relatives of the defendants and dozens of defense lawyers packed the courtroom.
El-Adly was one of the most powerful men under Mubarak, controlling the estimated half million security forces. The trial was adjourned until May 21.
He is among several stalwarts of the Mubarak regime who have been detained and investigated on charges of corruption or mismanagement of public funds. Mubarak, himself, was also arrested by the country's top prosecutor this month pending an investigation of accusations of illegally amassing wealth and his role in the use of live ammunition against the protesters.
Mubarak, 82, is in hospital under guard in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Mubarak's two sons, wealthy businessman Alaa and one-time heir apparent Gamal, have also been detained on corruption charges, joining the former prime minister and the speakers of parliament's two chambers in Tora prison just south of Cairo.