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Egypt

Mubarak's retrial judge steps down, citing 'unease'

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak appeared in court to face his retrial over the killing of protesters in 2011, only to have the judge step down. Mubarak and former aides face charges of complicity.

Wearing a white track suit, the 84-year-old former president was wheeled into court on a hospital gurney on Saturday to answer charges of complicity in the killing of hundreds of demonstrators in 2011.

Judge Mustafa Hassan Abdullah, however, withdrew from the trial almost immediately, signaling an indefinite adjournment of the trial.

The judge cited that he felt "unease" in reviewing the case and referred it to the Cairo appeals court.

Saturday's proceedings were held at a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo, where Mubarak had been flown to by helicopter.

Mubarak resigned his post as president on February 11, 2011, after an 18-day revolt across the country that saw mass demonstrations and deadly protests.

Answering charges

Mubarak, his former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli and four top aides face retrial on charges of complicity in the murder of more than 800 protesters, after the highest appeals court accepted appeals by both the defense and the prosecution in January. Two other former aides face lesser charges.

Saturday was the first time the former president had been seen in public since being convicted last June - alongside Adli - for failing to stop the killings, rather than actually ordering them.

Prosecutors say Mubarak gave Adli orders to open fire with live ammunition against the protesters in an effort to suppress the demonstrations taking place across the country in early 2011.

The original trial of Mubarak in August 2011 was the first time an Arab leader deposed by his people had appeared in court to answer charges in person.

He and Adli were given life in prison, but an appeals court upheld their complaints, including weak evidence offered by the prosecution.

Mubarak has suffered severe health problems in recent years and has undergone treatment at a military hospital in Cairo.

tm/slk (AFP, dpa, Reuters)