Sunday, October 30, 2011

Mubarak trial put on hold in Egypt

Cairo, Egypt (CNN) -- The trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was put on hold for two months pending a decision on whether to replace the judge, his lawyer told CNN on Sunday.

The delay comes because attorneys for victims of the uprising that toppled Mubarak objected to the judge presiding over the case, said the lawyer, Farid El Deeb.

"The judge is not firm enough, " said Khaled Abu Bakr, a lawyer representing one of the victims. "He did not allow many of them into the court and did not give them enough time to ask their questions, especially in the testimony of General Tantawi."

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi is the head of Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces --effectively the interim ruler of Egypt.

If their objection to Judge Ahmed Refaat is upheld, the trial must start over with a new judge.

A panel is due to consider Refaat's position on December 26. On Sunday, he set the next hearing in the case for December 28.

The decision was announced in a hearing lasting about a minute, in the presence of Mubarak, his sons and former Interior Minister Habib El Adly, all of whom were in court.

Refaat ordered them to remain in custody while the case is in legal limbo.

They face charges over the killing of protesters in the demonstrations that led Mubarak to resign in February, and over corruption while in office.

Lawyers representing the families of the dead protesters petitioned a higher court demanding a new panel of judges because of "unfair treatment of lawyers representing civilians."

They also objected to other matters including the "unexplained secrecy of testimony of high-profile witnesses crucial to the fate of the case," according to the motion.

They filed their objection after Tantawi testified behind closed doors in the trial.

The high court judge who was originally supposed to consider Refaat's fitness to judge the case stepped aside earlier.

Abu Bakr said he did not know why the judge recused himself, but said he may have a conflict of interests due to a previous associated with Refaat.
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