Judge in Mubarak's Retrial Resigns Within Seconds
The judge in the retrial of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak stepped aside on Saturday, just seconds after the opening of the first hearing.
Head judge Mostafa Hassan Abdallah told the court he would recuse himself and send the case to the Court of Appeal, which will then refer the trial to a new circuit, AFP reported.
As the judges filed out of the courtroom, uproar erupted with people shouting and waving their arms. Civil society lawyers attending the trial chanted, "The people want the execution of the president."
In October, the same judge had acquitted defendants in the infamous "Battle of the Camels" trial, who were accused of sending men on camels and horses to break up a protest during the 2011 uprising that toppled Mubarak.
"This judge and this circuit acquitted all the defendants in the battle of the camels and there is a lot of doubt over their position. This prevents him from conducting this trial," Amir Salem, a lawyer for the families of victims, told AFP.
Mubarak and his former interior minister Habib al-Adly were sentenced to life in prison for failing to prevent the deaths of over 800 protesters during the 18-day uprising that began on January 25, 2011.
The rulings sparked nationwide outrage, with thousands taking to the streets to vent their anger that no one had been found directly guilty of killing the protesters.
Months of rumors that Mubarak was too weak to attend his retrial were put to rest on Saturday when the former leader seemed healthy as he sat up in a stretcher in the defendants' cage, smiling and waving to supporters.
"We love you, big man!" a handful of his supporters yelled at him, according to AFP.
His sons Alaa and Gamal, who are also facing a new trial for corruption, appeared to be in good spirits as they smiled and chatted with their father, the report said.
Earlier on Saturday, television footage showed Mubarak wheeled out of an ambulance on a stretcher and taken into the Police Academy in a Cairo suburb for the hearing.
A handful of supporters outside the courthouse held up posters of their former leader, chanting: "Where are the days of Mubarak?" but they were outnumbered by security personnel.