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Egypt court backs judge to stay on in Mubarak case

(AFP) / 7 December 2011

CAIRO — An Egyptian court rejected Wednesday a petition to remove the chief judge in ex-president Hosni Mubarak’s murder trial, filed by a lawyer claiming the judge favoured the defence, state media reported.

“The Cairo appeal court has backed keeping judge Ahmed Refaat in the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak,” the official MENA news agency reported, adding the court also fined the lawyer who moved to dismiss him.

Refaat drew the ire of lawyers representing Mubarak’s alleged victims after he placed a gag order on testimony by high-profile witnesses, including the country’s military ruler Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

The lawyers also complain that they and the prosecution were not allowed to adequately cross-examine the witnesses in the trial, in which Mubarak, his security chiefs and sons face various murder and corruption charges.

The next hearing in the former strongman’s trial has been postponed to the end of December to allow the appeals court time to rule on the complaint against Refaat.

Mubarak may face the death sentence if he is found to have been complicit in the killings of some of the roughly 850 people who died during 18 days of protests that overthrew him in February.

Most of the prosecution’s witnesses so far have denied that Mubarak or his security chiefs, including former interior minister Habib al-Adli, ordered police to fire on protesters.

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