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Mon 5 Sep 2011 11:43 AM

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Witnesses to take stand off-camera in Mubarak trial

No live footage of trial that will see Egypt’s former ruler charged with killing protesters

Witnesses to take stand off-camera in Mubarak trial
A protestor argues with Egyptian riot police outside the court in the first days of the trial of Egypts ousted president Hosni Mubarak

A top police official and three other officers will testify
on Monday in the trial of Egypt's ousted President Hosni Mubarak, the first
witnesses to take the stand in a case that has gripped Egypt and the Arab
world.

Egyptians were stunned by television images of their
83-year-old former president of 30 years being wheeled into a cage in court
lying on a hospital bed in the first two sessions. By order of the judge, no more
sessions will be televised.

One reason Judge Ahmed Refaat gave for banning live cameras
was to protect the testimony of witnesses. Lawyers, who applauded the decision,
said it was to prevent witnesses being influenced by each other or the public.

Mubarak is the first Arab leader to stand trial in person
since popular uprisings swept the Middle East this year.

"We are expecting to hear the testimony of four
witnesses that the prosecution has asked for to prove the charges against
Mubarak and the others," said Gamal Eid, a lawyer representing 16 of the
roughly 850 people killed in the uprising.

Mubarak is charged with involvement in the killing of the
protesters.

Eid said one of the witnesses is a top police officer,
General Hussein Saeed Mohamed Mursi, who worked in the operations room of the
police force during the uprising.

"[Mursi] had been accused in a decision issued by the
general prosecutor of deleting those recordings but he later turned into a
witness," Eid said.

The three other witnesses called by the court are also police
officers who were in the operations room during the 18 days of protests. The
court named them as Emad Badr Saeed, Bassim Mohamed el-Otaify and Mahmoud Galal
Abdel Hamid.

Mubarak is standing trial with his two sons Gamal, once
viewed as being groomed for top office, and Alaa, as well as former Interior
Minister Habib al-Adli and six senior police officers.

Ten Kuwaiti lawyers are expected to join the defence team
for Mubarak on Monday. Some of the lawyers said their role comes as a gesture
of gratitude to Mubarak for his support for a US-led coalition that expelled
Iraq from Kuwait in 1991.

A press conference held by the Kuwaiti lawyers on Sunday
descended into chaos when pro-Mubarak supporters attacked a journalist,
scratching his arms and beating him after he asked why the Kuwaitis were defending
the ousted president.

During the two earlier court sessions, the first held on Aug
3, supporters and opponents of Mubarak gathered outside the police academy
building in a Cairo suburb where the trial is being held. Some fought and threw
stones at each other.

Mubarak was flown to the court by helicopter for the two
previous sessions. He is now at a hospital on the outskirts of Cairo.