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Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak asks El-Sisi for ‘permission’ to testify in Morsi trial

Egypt’s deposed president Hosni Mubarak on Wednesday asked current President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for “permission” to disclose sensitive information in the retrial of ousted leader Muhammad Morsi.

Toppled in 2011 after mass protests against his nearly 30-year-rule, Mubarak took the witness stand in a Cairo court to testify about jailbreaks allegedly orchestrated by Morsi and other members of his Muslim Brotherhood group during the uprising.
The 90-year-old Mubarak, whose nearly three-decade rule was ended by a popular uprising in 2011, entered courtroom with a cane along with his two sons Alaa and Gamal. He was wearing a dark blue suit and a matching tie. He appeared physically well and mentally sharp though his speech was slow at times.
Prosecutors say they were sprung from prison with the help of the Palestinian group Hamas and operatives from Lebanon’s Hezbollah movement.
In sworn testimony, Mubarak declined to answer all of the judge’s questions until the presidency granted him “permission” to reveal “sensitive” information related to national security.
“If I talk, I will open many subjects that I am barred from discussing without permission,” he said.
The former president acknowledged that at the time, he had received information from his intelligence chief on the infiltration of militants from the Gaza Strip to the country’s east during the uprising.
“General Omar Suleiman informed me on January 29 (2011) that 800 armed militants infiltrated through the border,” he said, adding that militants from Hamas group, assisted by North Sinai residents, used underground tunnels to cross.
The judge also asked Mubarak questions about the involvement of Hezbollah operatives.
On the border with Gaza, North Sinai is the epicenter of an extremist insurgency that erupted following Morsi’s military ouster in 2013.
The jailed former leader is involved in four lengthy trials in different cases, including on charges of undermining national security by conspiring with foreign groups and orchestrating a prison break.
Egypt in recent years has built a buffer zone along the border to stem the flow of militants.
Mubarak said the militants had attacked police stations, killed security personnel and helped spring Morsi and other senior Brotherhood members from detention.
Wednesday’s case is rooted in the 2011 escape of more than 20,000 inmates from Egyptian prisons — including Morsi and other Muslim Brotherhood members — during the early days of the 18-day uprising against Mubarak. Mursi and the other Brotherhood leaders escaped two days after they were detained as Mubarak’s security forces tried to undercut the planned protests.
At the time, authorities also cut off Internet access and mobile phone networks, crippling communication among the protesters and with the outside world.
In June 2015, the Cairo Criminal Court issued sentences of death and life imprisonment against Morsi and other key figures of the Brotherhood. However, in November 2016, the Court of Cassation, Egypt’s final recourse for appeals in criminal cases, annulled the sentence and ordered a retrial of the defendants.
Mubarak was freed last year, ending nearly six years of legal proceedings against him. He was acquitted by the country’s top appeals court of charges that he ordered the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising.
Mubarak has already served a three-year sentence for embezzling state funds in connection with the protesters’ case.
Morsi, who was in a white jumpsuit, refused to question Mubarak. The chief judge adjourned the hearings until Jan. 24.

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