This video image shows ex-Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak lying on a hospital bed Wednesday inside a cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom.Ap photo
CAIRO — An ailing, 83-year-old Hosni Mubarak, lying ashen-faced on a hospital bed inside a metal defendants cage with his two sons standing protectively beside him in white prison uniforms, denied charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters at the start of his historic trial on Wednesday.
The spectacle, aired live on state television, was a stunning moment for Egyptians. Many savored the humiliation of the man who ruled with unquestionable power for 29 years, during which opponents were tortured, corruption was rife, poverty spread and political life was stifled.
After skepticism that Egypt’s military rulers would allow one of their own — a former head of the air force — to be prosecuted in front of the world, the scene went a long way to satisfy one of the key demands that has united protesters since Feb. 11, when Mubarak fell following an 18-day uprising.
“This is the dream of Egyptians, to see him like this, humiliated like he humiliated them for the last 30 years,” said Ghada Ali, the mother of a 17-year old girl in the city of Alexandria who was shot to death during the crackdown.
In the courtroom, a prosecutor read the charges against Mubarak — that he was an accomplice along with his then-interior minister in the “intentional and premeditated murder of peaceful protesters” and that he and his sons received gifts from a prominent businessman in return for guaranteeing him a lowered price in a land deal with the state.
“Yes, I am here,” Mubarak said from his bed, raising his hand slightly when the judge asked him to identify himself and enter a plea. “I deny all these accusations completely,” he said into a microphone, wagging his finger. His sons also pleaded not guilty.
With Mubarek in the cage were his nine co-defendants, including his two sons — one-time heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa — his former interior minister Habib el-Adly, and six top former police officials.
The judge adjourned Mubarak and his sons’ trial until Aug. 15 and ordered Mubarak held at a military hospital outside Cairo, and that an oncologist be among the doctors monitoring him. That was one of the strongest indications yet that Mubarak, 83, has cancer.