Egypt's Mubarak and Brotherhood leaders appear in court

Former president's trial adjourned to September; case against top Muslim Brotherhood leaders postponed until October

Ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak listens to proceedings from inside the defendant cage in a courtroom in Cairo on July 6, 2013.
Mohammed al-Law/AP

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak appeared in court over alleged complicity in the death of protesters -- charges similar to those made against Muslim Brotherhood leaders in separate proceedings Sunday. Both cases were adjourned.

The 85-year-old former strongman of Egypt was taken by helicopter from Maadi Military Hospital to the Cairo Police Academy for a brief hearing, during which his retrial was adjourned until Sept. 14.

Mubarak's co-defendants -- his two sons and former interior minister Habib al-Adly -- also appeared in the courtroom amid heavy security.

The ex-president left prison for house arrest earlier this week. His retrial centers on charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising that removed him from power.

Mubarak was convicted in June 2012 and sentenced to life in prison, but a retrial was ordered in January after he appealed. He also faces a number of corruption cases, despite being cleared in some.

Meanwhile, the trial of Mohamed Badie, the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader, and his two deputies, Khairat al-Shater and Rashad Bayoumy, was adjourned just minutes after opening Sunday, with hearings set to resume Oct. 29.

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None of the men were present in the courtroom, with Egyptian officials citing security concerns due to heightened tensions in the country.

The Brotherhood leaders have been charged with instigating violence against protesters during the days leading up to the army's recent overthrow of President Mohamed Morsi.

The trial signals the determination of Egypt's new army-backed rulers to crush an organization they have portrayed as a violent group bent on undermining the state.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that became increasingly powerful after the fall of Mubarak in 2011, says it is a peaceful movement unjustly targeted by the generals who ousted Morsi, Egypt's first freely elected leader, on July 3.

But the military contends it was responding to the people's will, citing vast demonstrations at the time against the rule of a man criticized for accumulating excessive power, pushing a partisan Islamist agenda and mismanaging the economy.

The three Brotherhood defendants are accused of authorizing the murders of nine protesters outside the organization's headquarters on the night of June 30. Morsi's presidency was backed by the Brotherhood.

Another three Brotherhood members will stand trial along with their leaders, accused of carrying out the murders of the anti-Brotherhood protesters that night, when 91 other people were injured.

Like Mubarak, all six Brotherhood members face the death penalty if convicted.

Egyptian authorities have issued arrest warrants and detention orders for hundreds of Brotherhood members and detained several senior leaders of the group in recent days.

According to security sources, at least 2,000 have been arrested since Aug. 14.

Isolated protests continue

Meanwhile, supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood have continued to stage protests, demanding reinstatement of the deposed president.

Al Jazeera's Mike Hanna reported from Cairo that while demonstrations have continued, the number of protesters taking to the streets has significantly decreased.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, also reporting from Cairo, said the low turnout was due to the heavy military crackdown on protesters. Because local TV stations have not covered the protests, she said, most people were not aware of them.

Authorities have trimmed the nighttime curfew that was imposed when the upheaval began.

"To lessen the burden on citizens and respond to popular request, the length of the curfew will be shortened and will begin at 9 p.m. instead of 7 p.m.," a statement from the interim prime minister's office said.

The curfew will still end at 6 a.m., the statement said, adding that the changes would go into effect immediately but would not apply on Fridays.

Friday is a traditional day of protests, which usually begin after weekly Muslim prayers in the afternoon.

More than 1,000 people, including about 100 soldiers and police, have died in violence across Egypt since Morsi's overthrow, making it the bloodiest civil unrest in the republic's 60-year history. Brotherhood supporters say the toll is much higher.

Morsi supporters staged scattered marches on what they had billed as a "Friday of Martyrs," but the Brotherhood's ability to mobilize huge crowds appears to have been enfeebled by the roundup of its leaders and the bloody dispersal of protest camps set up in Cairo to demand the president's reinstatement.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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