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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Mubarak faces possible execution, Egyptian official says

Cairo  Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak could be executed if he is convicted of ordering the killing of protesters, Egypt's justice minister says.
"One of the charges he is facing is complicity in the killing of martyrs and issuing the orders for premeditated the killing of those people," said Justice Minister Mohamed Abdelaziz al-Juindy. "This is a charge with a harsh punishment -- the death penalty."
In his first television interview since taking office, the new justice minister said last week that Egyptian courts would not shy away from sentencing Mubarak to death if he is found guilty.
"If the crime is proven, then the court will not hesitate to issue the death sentence," he said.
"A judge may have mercy if there is a reason for that, but I don't think in this case there is any argument for clemency whatsoever," the minister added, calling it "a horrible crime, to kill 800 citizens who were asking for their rights and hoping to topple a corrupt regime that caused the ruin of Egypt."
Mubarak resigned in the face of popular protests in February after more than 30 years in power.
He has been in poor health and living in the southern Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since then. Prosecutors last month shelved plans to move him to a military hospital in Cairo, saying Mubarak's doctors said the transfer could be life-threatening.
Adel Saeed, the prosecutor's spokesman, said April 26 that the Interior Ministry made the decision after Mubarak's medical team submitted a report that determined he would be at risk if he were moved.
But Justice Minister al-Juindy said Mubarak's health was "good," according to reports he had received.
Mubarak "suffers some heart irregularities known as atrial fibrillation, but his pulse and pressure are fine. His heart rate is 65 per minute, which is considered like an athlete," the official said.
"Of course he's facing questioning for the first time in his life, so this is affecting him psychologically," the minister added.
He will be required to appear in court when the time comes, al-Juindy said.
"His appearance in court will be mandatory," he said.
If Mubarak is too sick to appear, "in this case, the prosecutor visits him, and this is a procedure we follow with any sick suspect. The suspect must be given a chance to put forward his defense, so that the trial can be fair."
He is also being probed on allegations of corruption and misuse of state funds.
"There are reports that the former president's wealth is in the billions, and indeed it is billions," the justice minister asserted.
So far "we can't ascertain the exact amount, but the investigation is underway," he said.
Mubarak's trial will show that the rule of law is supreme in the country, al-Juindy said.
"The law is respected in Egypt and is applied on everyone without any exception," he said. "This is very important because Egypt now has become a country were the law is sovereign."

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