CAIRO -- Hosni Mubarak, 83 years old and ailing, goes on trial Wednesday on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising that toppled him, and many Egyptians are celebrating the chance at retribution against a longtime authoritarian ruler.
But they also question whether the trial will truly break with the injustices of the past. Some worry that Egypt's new military rulers are touting the trial as proof that democratic reform has been accomplished, even as activists argue that far deeper change is still needed.
"I am a little worried that if Mubarak is tried and convicted people will take that to be the end of the revolution. They will say that the revolution has realized its goals. This should not be the case," said Tareq Shalaby, a 27-year-old social media consultant who was among the hundreds of thousands of protesters who thronged Cairo's Tahrir Square and sites in other cities during the uprising.
The prosecution of the ousted president is an unprecedented moment in the Arab world, the first time a modern Mideast leader has been put on trial fully by his own people.
The closest event to it was former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein's trial, but his capture came at the hands of U.S. troops in 2003 and his special tribunal was set up with extensive consultation with American officials and international experts.
Tunisia's deposed president, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, has been tried and convicted several times since his fall several weeks before Mubarak's, but all in absentia and he remains in exile in Saudi Arabia.
Mubarak, who ruled with unquestioned power for 29 years, is expected to appear during the trial sitting in a cage set up for him and his co-defendants, including his two sons and his former interior minister. The charges could bring a death sentence, traditionally carried out by hanging.