CAIRO -- Egyptian prosecutors called yesterday for former President Hosni Mubarak to be hanged, saying he bore full responsibility for the killing of protesters during the uprising against him, in a courtroom moment unthinkable barely a year ago when the longtime leader held unquestioned power.
The demand for the death penalty at his trial played to the widespread resentment of Mubarak, 83, among Egyptians who hoped that punishment for his oppressive rule would be fruit of the Arab Spring.
Still, some of the activists who helped topple him are skeptical the sentence would ever be carried out, if he is convicted. A conviction would be followed by a possibly lengthy appeals process that the ailing Mubarak's lawyer would likely draw out, and Egypt's new rulers -- the military -- have the power to veto a death sentence.
Mubarak has been brought on a hospital gurney to every hearing since his trial began Aug. 3, wheeled into the courtroom cage where defendants are held, alongside his two sons, former security chief and six police commanders.
Yesterday, prosecutor Mustafa Khater gave a passionate speech demanding the death penalty for Mubarak, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and four of the police commanders. They are charged with complicity in the deaths of roughly 800 protesters during the 18-day uprising that led to Mubarak's fall on Feb. 11.
"Retribution is the solution. Any fair judge must issue a death sentence for these defendants," said Khater, one of five prosecutors in the case.
"We feel the spirits of the martyrs flying over this hall of sacred justice, and those who lost their sight by the bullets of the defendants are stumbling around it to reach the judge and demand fair retribution from those who attacked them," he said. "The nation and the people are awaiting a word of justice and righteousness."
For separate corruption charges leveled against Mubarak, his sons Alaa and Gamal, and a close family friend on the run, Khater demanded unspecified prison sentences with hard labor. Two police commanders charged with gross negligence face prison terms.
Khater's speech came on the last of three days of sessions in which the prosecution laid out its case, following months of testimony by witnesses, aiming to show that Mubarak and el-Adly -- who was in charge of the police -- ordered security forces to use deadly force against protesters.