Lawyer sees "conspiracy of silence" in Mubarak trial

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 20, 2012 2:24 PM
Lawyer sees "conspiracy of silence" in Mubarak trial

By Dina Zayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - A lawyer acting for the families of those killed in Egypt's uprising against Hosni Mubarak Monday told the court trying him that there had been a "conspiracy of silence" by those seeking to shield the former president.

The prosecution and lawyers for the plaintiffs were speaking ahead the final hearing of the case Wednesday, when Judge Ahmed Refaat is due to set a date to deliver his verdict in the trial that began on August 3.

The prosecution is seeking the death sentence for Mubarak over the charge that he was involved in killing some 850 protesters but says the Interior Ministry and its police force have not cooperated to help them build the case.

"There is no doubt that there has been a conspiracy against the court, a conspiracy that started from the first day, a conspiracy of silence," plaintiff lawyer Sameh Ashour said.

"It is a conspiracy for all those videos to be recorded over, for an officer to be allowed to wipe all recordings from the police force's operation room," he said, accusing police of tampering with potential evidence.

Many Egyptians had hoped the trial would help turn a page on the past, but are now worried the prosecution has weaker evidence which could lead to a light sentence. They also say Mubarak received preferential treatment.

Mubarak, 83, who has denied the charges that also include abuse of power and corruption, was again in court on a stretcher and in the same cage as his two sons, the former interior minister and other top police officers.

He has been held in a military hospital rather than in prison facilities. A parliamentary committee said Monday in a report that a prison hospital on the edge of Cairo where other officials have been held was now equipped to receive him.

The prosecution, responding to the final arguments of the defense, said they had worked round the clock to build the case.

"We say the evidence is strong and decisive," prosecution lawyer Moustafa Suleiman said, adding that television footage showed the violence unleashed on protesters during the 18-day uprising that brought down Mubarak on February 11, 2011.

He added: "Over the course of the past month, what we have heard (from the defense) was distortions, silencing of the truth. Some of it was complete manipulation."

The prosecution reminded the court of footage from a mobile phone of one victim that showed the moment he was shot during the uprising, with images of the officer who shot him, but the Interior Ministry said it could not identify the shooter.

The prosecution also dismissed the defense argument that "third parties" and foreigners were to blame.

"Were these foreigners or third parties just in Tahrir Square (in Cairo)? How come they didn't show up in other provinces," Suleiman said.

(Editing by Edmund Blair)