The murder and corruption trial of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak resumed in Cairo on Tuesday, with prosecutors set to zero in on the fallen dictator.
An ailing Mubarak, 83, who was wheeled into court on a stretcher, is accused of involvement in the deaths of protesters during the uprising that overthrew him in February.
Mubarak was covering his eyes with sunglasses, which his son Gamal took off once he entered the court.
His former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six security chiefs were also in the dock, as were his two sons Alaa and Gamal who are being tried on corruption charges, according to AFP.
Police and army troops were deployed to secure the trial at the Police Academy, which once bore Mubarak’s name.
The prosecution is set to make its case over three days after presiding Judge Ahmed Refaat heard arguments from lawyers representing the families of the alleged victims.
Mubarak is the first leader toppled in a wave of Arab uprisings last year to stand trial in person and the case has drawn worldwide attention.
In a country still grappling with political chaos and an economic crisis almost a near since the uprising began, many people believe national renewal will be impossible unless justice is achieved for those killed and their families, according to Reuters.
No official has been convicted over the killing of protesters during the 18-day revolt. Mubarak and the other defendants deny any responsibility for the deaths.
The hearings began on Aug. 3 after months of protests to pressure the military rulers to place the former strongman on trial along with ex-regime officials.
There was a three months hiatus when lawyers for the alleged victims had tried to dismiss Judge Refaat, whom they accused of bias towards the defense. The request was subsequently denied.
Relatives of those who died in the protests say their hopes to see Mubarak sentenced have been dashed by a string of witnesses who mostly confirmed the defense’s case that the former president never gave orders to shoot protesters.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, Mubarak’s former defense minister who is now the country’s military ruler, testified in camera. The court issued a gag order on his testimony, but lawyers say he did not incriminate Mubarak.
Mubarak is in custody in a military hospital on Cairo’s outskirts, where he is being treated for a heart condition. His lawyer says he suffers from stomach cancer.
Lawyers for the dead demanded that Mubarak be transferred to a prison in south Cairo where the other defendants are held because his journey from the military hospital in a helicopter cost the state 500,000 Egyptian pounds ($82,000) each time, according to Reuters.
Tuesday’s hearing comes as Egyptians in a third of the country’s 27 provinces were voting in the final round of landmark parliamentary elections.