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Mubarak trial to open next week, Egypt says

From Mohamed Fadel Fahmy, for CNN
Hosni Mubarak faces a possible death sentence if convicted of unleashing police on the demonstrations
Hosni Mubarak faces a possible death sentence if convicted of unleashing police on the demonstrations
  • NEW: Egypt's health minister says Mubarak is healthy enough to stand trial
  • The 83-year-old former leader could face a death sentence in protesters' killings
  • The ex-president, his sons and a former business associate also face corruption charges

Cairo (CNN) -- Ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak's trial on charges of corruption and ordering police to kill anti-government protesters will open Wednesday at a Cairo convention hall, Egypt's justice minister announced Thursday.

The 83-year-old former president and his interior minister, Habib El Adly, face possible death sentences if convicted of unleashing police on the demonstrations that drove them from office in February. Six of El Adly's assistants face trial on the same charges, Justice Minister Mohamed Abdel Aziz Al Guindy announced Thursday.

Mubarak has denied the charges.

The human rights group Amnesty International has estimated that at least 840 people were killed and more than 6,000 wounded during the three-week uprising that toppled Mubarak. A police officer accused of indiscriminately shooting protesters has already been sentenced to death in absentia.

In addition, Mubarak, his sons Gamal and Alaa, and a business associate face trial on corruption charges. The trial will be open to the public under heavy security and carried on Egyptian state television, Al Guindy said.

All 11 defendants will appear in court in a cage that is being installed in the hall, he said. Metal detectors will screen those attending, and the minister said Egyptian troops and police will patrol the area surrounding the convention center, located in the eastern district of Madinet Nasr.

The trial is set to open on the third day of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Mubarak ruled Egypt with an iron fist for nearly 30 years before the revolt that toppled him February 11, leaving the nation under the control of a military council. He has been hospitalized since suffering heart palpitations in April, but Health Minister Amr Helmy declared Thursday that the ailing former strongman is "fit to stand trial, given a proper transportation arrangement."

Prosecutors have said Mubarak suffers from depression, fatigue, repeated irregular heartbeats, low blood pressure that could lead to fainting and an increased risk of heart attack. His lawyer disclosed in June that the ex-president had been struggling with complications from a previously concealed 2010 surgery for stomach cancer.

On July 18, hospital officials reported that Mubarak had fallen into a brief coma. And Tuesday, hospital officials told the state-run news service EgyptNews that he was depressed and refusing to eat as he awaits trial.

From journalist Mohamed Fadel Fahmy

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