CAIRO (Reuters) – A court postponed on Monday the trial of Egypt’s former interior minister over the killing of protesters until next week so that he will be tried alongside ousted President Hosni Mubarak.
The ruling followed a weekend of clashes involving protesters demanding swifter reforms and faster prosecution of Mubarak and his officials after February’s revolution. Demonstrators clashed with their opponents and also scuffled with the army who blocked a march.
Many Egyptians believe the army is reluctant to speed up the trial of Mubarak, its former commander-in-chief, and say it wants to prevent his public humiliation. They also accuse the army of foot-dragging in other reforms.
“Why did they postpone the trial today? We are tired of this never-ending postponement. The son of my brother died in the revolution; who will give us our rights … if the court keeps postponing trials of those who killed him?” asked Mohamed Abdou, who was outside the court.
Judge Adel Abdel-Salam ordered that the trial of Habib al-Adli be postponed until August 3 so it is “joined with the case related to the trial of the former President Hosni Mubarak,” adding that the evidence and charges were the same. Six others also involved in the Adli case will stand trial on the same day.
Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, have been charged with a role in the killing of demonstrators. More than 840 died in the 18-day uprising that ousted the president on February 11.
Mubarak, 83, has been in hospital since April, when he was first questioned. Judicial and security sources told Reuters this month his trial might take place in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh where he is in hospital, and not in Cairo.
His two sons are being held in a prison on Cairo’s outskirts.
Adli, who stood in a cage in court where defendants are put during Monday’s hearing, is reviled by protesters after the police force he commanded used live ammunition, teargas and water cannon to try to break up protests against Mubarak.
“According to me, I am against the postponement. Why take all this time?” said Foad Kamal, who works in a supermarket chain. He had come to the court expecting a verdict.
About 300 people were injured in Cairo on Saturday when thousands of demonstrators fought opponents with stones on a march to the Defence Ministry to urge the ruling military council to speed up reforms.
Activists blamed the violence on thugs who they said were encouraged by the authorities and remnants of Mubarak’s ruling party. Protesters also scuffled with military police who were barring the way to the ministry.
The army has dismissed the charges and said it did not use force against demonstrators.
“What happened on Saturday was a planned attack against peaceful protesters who aim to keep up pressure on the military council to bring about faster reforms,” said Mohamed Fahmy, a member of the Youth Coalition of the Revolution.
“We will continue to muster people on the street next Friday. We will respond in peaceful protest to Saturday’s events,” Fahmy said.
Protesters have increasingly criticised the army and arranged coordinated demonstrations in Cairo and the port cities of Alexandria and Suez.