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Mubarak to go on trial Aug. 3

CAIRO -- Former President Hosni Mubarak, who held absolute power in Egypt for nearly 30 years, goes on trial Aug. 3, charged with corruption and intentionally killing protesters, a court official said yesterday.

The ousted leader's two sons will be tried at the same time on charges of corruption.

The Middle East News Agency said Abdel-Aziz Omar, head of the Court of Appeals, set the trial date that will put Mubarak and his sons in the dock, six months after the former president transferred power to a military council on Feb. 11.

Mubarak's ouster caught the United States off guard and scrambling to revise its policy toward a steadfast Washington ally.

The revolt in Egypt followed quickly after an uprising in Tunisia forced that country's leader from power. Since Mubarak's ouster, revolts have swept Yemen, Libya and Syria, but entrenched leaders in those countries still cling to power.

Mubarak could face the death penalty, if convicted. At least 846 protesters were killed during the 18-day revolt.

The location of the trial remained unclear, given that a government-appointed panel of physicians determined Tuesday that Mubarak, 83, was too ill to be jailed while awaiting his appearance in court.

The doctors said Mubarak's heart condition put him at risk of a sudden attack. The panel also reported that he was suffering from depression. He has been in custody at a hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April.

Since Mubarak's ouster, tens of thousands of protesters have demonstrated repeatedly to press for a trial that would hold Mubarak accountable.

"The trial is not taking place as part of a smooth judicial process, but only in response to heavy pressures," said Bahey-eldin Hassan of the Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies.

The case, however, marks the first time in modern history that an Arab leader has been put on trial by his own people. Saddam Hussein, toppled during the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, was captured by U.S. forces and sentenced to death by an Iraqi court that was under the quiet supervision of U.S. officials, and executed.

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