Mubarak denies ‘shedding the blood’ of 900 Egyptian protesters

Egypt’s deposed president Hosni Mubarak denied he ordered protesters killed in the 2011 uprising that deposed him, his first lengthy statement to a court as his retrial draws to an end.

Mubarak denies ‘shedding the blood’ of 900 Egyptian protesters

Mubarak, aged 86, described his 29-year rule as one that stabilised the country, a theme employed during his last days in power as the popular revolt against him grew and he resisted calls to step down.

“Hosni Mubarak speaking to you today would never order the killing of protesters or shedding the blood of Egyptians,” the former autocrat said in a speech where he appeared at times sympathetic but also defiant.

“I voluntarily chose to give up my responsibility as president to prevent bloodshed and to preserve national unity, for Egypt not to slip into a dangerous path toward the unknown,” he said.

Mubarak was found guilty in June 2012 of failing to stop the killing of over 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising and was sentenced to life imprisonment, but his conviction was overturned in January 2013.

That decision was appealed by prosecutors, and a retrial began in April 2013.

Along with Mubarak, his security chief Habib el-Adly, convicted and sentenced to life in prison on the same charges, as well as six of el-Adly’s top aides, are also standing trial. All six were acquitted in the earlier trial.

The final verdict will be issued on September 27.

Police forces collapsed in the first days of the uprising, when protesters stormed police stations across the country.

Since the revolt, nearly 173 policemen and security officials have been put on trial, but all were acquitted either for lack of evidence or under the pretext that the police acted in self-defence. The acquittals became a cornerstone of Mubarak’s defence strategy.

Mubarak said the 2011 protests began peacefully but were taken over by “exploiters of religion inside and outside the country” who steered the demonstrations toward violence.

It was the same language often used by Mubarak-era media men and officials to refer to the Muslim Brotherhood group, whose leader Mohammed Morsi became Mubarak’s successor in the country’s first free elections in 2012. A year later, the military overthrew Morsi after millions staged demonstrations against him demanding his resignation for abuse of power.

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