Egypt’s highest appeals court on Thursday ordered the retrial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak on charges that he failed to stop the killing of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his 29-year rule.
The ruling set Nov. 5 as the date for the start of the new trial, the verdict of which cannot be appealed. It would be the third time that Mubarak is tried in connection with the killings in 2011.
Mubarak, who is 86 and in failing health, has since his arrest in April 2011 been held in detention in a number of hospitals. He now resides at a Nile-side military hospital in a leafy suburb just south of Cairo.
The ruling came six months after a criminal court dismissed murder charges against Mubarak in connection with the killing of the protesters, citing the “inadmissibility” of the case due to a technicality.
That ruling marked a major setback for the young activists who spearheaded the Arab Spring uprising in January and February 2011, many of whom are now in jail or have withdrawn from politics in the face of an ongoing crackdown by authorities.
Judge Mahmoud al-Rashidi said at the time that he dismissed the case against Mubarak because his May 2011 referral to trial by prosecutors ignored the “implicit” decision that no criminal charges be filed against him when his security chief and six top aides were referred to trial by the same prosecutors two months earlier. Massive protests demanding that Mubarak be put on trial took place in April of that year.
An appeal demanding a retrial of Mubarak’s security chief and the six top police commanders, also acquitted in November, was rejected on Thursday.
The killing of nearly 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising remains a contentious issue, with activists and rights groups demanding that police be held accountable. Dozens of policemen charged with killing protesters have been acquitted or received suspended or light sentences.
Mohammed Morsi, a prominent Islamist, won Egypt’s first free presidential election in 2012, but ruled for just a year before the military overthrew him amid massive protests demanding his resignation. Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who as military chief led Morsi’s ouster in July 2013, was elected president a year ago.
Since Morsi’s ouster, pro-government media have increasingly blamed the violence during the 2011 uprising on his Muslim Brotherhood, which is now outlawed as a terrorist group.