The sight of the deposed president Hosni Mubarak, 83, lying behind bars, that has kept all of Egypt glued to the TV, will no longer be televised, an Egyptian judge ruled Monday.
The decision will transform the public experience of the trial, the New York Times reported. On Monday, the second day of proceedings, Judge Ahmed Refaat said that he was turning off the cameras “to protect the public interest.”
The Mubarak family was evidently pleased. One of the sons flashed a V for victory after the ruling.
The metal cage Mubarak and his two sons shared is the standard for defendants in an Egyptian criminal trial, but had fascinated Egyptians watching a decades-long autocrat reduced to the level of a common criminal.
Mubarak is facing charges of corruption and of ordering the killing of protesters during Egypt’s uprising, which forced him from office in February.
The ailing 83-year-old was again wheeled into court on a hospital bed, while outside hundreds of riot police stood guard on the Cairo streets, the Associated Press reports. Scuffles repeatedly broke out between Mubarak supporters and anti-Mubarak protesters, the BBC says.
Inside the court room, the judge struggled to keep order as scores of lawyers argued with each other and jostled for the judge’s attention.
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The judge has yet to rule on who will be allowed to testify in the case. Mubarak’s lawyer has asked the judge to call 1,600 witnesses, the BBC says.
Mubarak’s sons Alaa and Gama, who were with him at court on Monday, are also on trial for corruption charges.
Egypt's ex-president is reportedly in poor health and doctors have been monitoring his medical condition at a military hospital near the capital, where he has been held since his first court appearance on August 3.
At Mubarak’s first court appearance, broadcast on Egyptian state TV, the former president’s condition shocked the nation.
Mubarak is the first Arab leader to stand trial in person since popular uprisings began sweeping the Middle East earlier this year, Reuters says.