Mubarak lawyer attacks graft charge in Egypt trial

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 19, 2012 11:49 AM
Mubarak lawyer attacks graft charge in Egypt trial

By Dina Zayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - Any accusations of corruption against Hosni Mubarak should go through military, not civilian authorities, his defense lawyer said on Thursday, seeking to undermine the prosecution's case against the former Egyptian president.

Lawyer Farid el-Deeb was defending Mubarak for a third day in a trial which Egyptians who rose up against him hope will bring justice - the prosecution is seeking the death sentence on a charge that Mubarak ordered the killing of protesters.

Yet those who want to see Mubarak punished are starting to express concern that the prosecution's case is not as strong as they had hoped. A not guilty verdict would likely outrage many and could fuel more protests.

Citing a military justice code, Deeb said Mubarak should have been treated according to his status as a former officer once he ceded his presidential powers to the military council that has been governing Egypt since last February.

"A military court, and no one else, is charged with viewing any cases of illicit gains," Deeb said. Mubarak had been an airforce lieutenant general before he moved into public office, a rank Deeb said his client kept for life.

As in previous sessions, the 83-year-old Mubarak was wheeled into the courtroom on a hospital trolley. The man who governed Egypt for three decades listened to the defense from a cage reserved for the defendants, alongside him his two sons who are standing trial on charges of corruption.

Broadcast live in its early stages, the trial mesmerized millions of Arabs. Mubarak is the first Arab leader toppled in a wave of protests to appear in court in person.

The prosecution has accused the former president of using his influence to "deliberately waste public funds and unlawfully making private financial gains and profit."

Specifically, the charge says he helped his two sons acquire property in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Deeb said the prosecution had relied on an invalid report to value the property, saying an expert who drew up the estimate had fabricated records showing how he had reached his valuation only after the paperwork was requested by the defense.

"This expert did nothing that has anything to do with any form of expertise," he said.

Deeb had accused the prosecution in an earlier session of relying on the testimony of an officer he described as "a liar" as the basis of its entire case for the charges of corruption.

"The report is flawed. The report is corrupted," Deeb argued, saying the experts had inspected property specified in a different location from where the villas actually were.

"This entire charge only aims to taint and damage the reputation of this man," Deeb said, motioning with his arms towards Mubarak's cage. "This is unjust."

On Tuesday, the defense said Mubarak's accusers had no evidence to support their charge that he ordered the killing of protesters during the uprising in which more than 850 people were killed.

Deeb has described Mubarak as "a just man, not a tyrant."

The judge has given the prosecution and defense until February 16 to make their case.

(Editing by Tom Perry)