CAIRO (AP) — Ex-President Hosni Mubarak has told interrogators he did not order security forces to open fire on protesters during the 18-day uprising that ousted him, according to a leaked transcript of his interrogation that was published Thursday.
He also insisted that no one would have listened to him had he ordered a stop to the violence, which killed nearly 900 protesters, and suggested that both the security forces and the demonstrators fired on each other during the Jan. 25-Feb. 11 uprising.
Mubarak, 83, also denied corruption allegations, while seeking to explain why a bank account in his name held millions of dollars in foreign donations intended for the construction and upkeep of a massive library in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria. He said he had secretly kept the money from the library’s management so they could not claim it or use it for purposes not related to the facility.
The transcript of Mubarak’s questioning by prosecutors was published Thursday by two independent newspapers, Al-Youm al-Sabea and Al-Dustour. Al-Youm al-Sabea published photographs of the original handwritten notes of the interrogators on its website.
Judicial officials told The Associated Press that the transcript was authentic. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.
Mubarak’s chief defense lawyer, Farid el-Deeb, told the AP that part of what was published had been fabricated, but declined to elaborate.
Mubarak, under police custody at a hospital in a Red Sea resort, faces trial next month on charges of ordering the use of deadly force against the demonstrations. He is also facing charges of corruption along with his two sons, businessman Alaa and one-time heir apparent Gamal.
Justice for the uprising’s victims is among the hottest issues in Egypt during its bumpy transition toward democracy. Protesters have been camping out at a central Cairo square since last week to demand that those behind the killings be swiftly tried. Interior Minister Mansour el-Issawi on Wednesday fired nearly 700 senior police officers to cleanse the deeply unpopular force, but protesters remained unsatisfied, arguing that a complete restructuring of the force is needed.
In their entirety, Mubarak’s comments appeared designed to fend off charges that he ordered, knew of or condoned the use of deadly force against protesters and paint a picture of a leader kept in the dark by top aides as to the gravity of the situation during the uprising.
He also appeared to grossly underestimate the number of protesters out on the streets in Cairo and across much of the nation during the uprising and, at one point, was dismissive of the violence and the resulting loss of life. “Our people and our security are like that.”
Asked to explain why he thought protesters were killed and wounded during the uprising, Mubarak said: “I cannot say exactly.” He later added that there was chaos, with the security forces and the protesters attacking each other.
“No one would have paid any attention to me or my orders,” he replied when asked why he did not stop the violence.