CAIRO-In a tremendous twist of irony, Hosni Mubarak was wheeled in on a hospital bed into a make-shift courtroom put together at the police academy that was once named after him on the outskirts of Cairo. The once untouchable Mubarak and his sons were locked in a cage at the proceedings. Mubarak, bed-ridden with his sons flanking him on either side in prison whites, listened as charges against them were read.
Stern faced and with a strength in his voice that belied his weakened condition, Mubarak brought the microphone to his mouth after charges were read and said, “I totally deny all those charges.”
Mubarak’s charges include the ordering of the killing of hundreds of protesters in the uprising that toppled his government last winter, if found guilty, he faces the death penalty. His sons stand accused of financial corruption and abuse of power. They could receive 15 year sentences on those charges.
Right up to the minute that a helicopter flew Mubarak in for the proceedings, many doubted that he would be present for his trial. At his arrival at the make-shift courtroom, many clamored to catch a glimpse of the 83 year old fallen ruler. The compound was surrounded by over 3,000 police and soldiers and at least 30 tanks. the bed-ridden ex-ruler looked weakened after a recent heart attack and self-imposed hunger strike.
The proceedings were televised nation-wide. It seemed the entire nation was huddled around television sets that once were filled with Mubarak propaganda. One watcher in a downtown Cairo cafe, a pharmacist named Mohammed Farouk, said, “Today, we Egyptians are sending a message to the U.S. and Europe. We are saying even though this man served his country in a war and became its president, he must still face justice and be punished like anyone else.” Nearby a police officer watching as well, simply shouted, “Hang em!”