Mubarak's Trial Opens to Intense Interest, Naps and Nose-Picking
The former Egyptian president faces charges of corruption and complicity in killing protesters
The days preceding the first hearing in Hosni Mubarak's trial were rife with anticipation. There was talk of the ousted Egyptian president appearing in a giant Cairo convention center, though the trial was later moved to a police academy secured by 5,000 soldiers, 50 tanks, and a ring of barbed wire. So it was a bit surprising that many Twitter users following the trial live this morning arrived at the same conclusion: the proceedings, while undoubtedly historic, were, well, really boring.
Mubarak, who is facing charges of corruption and conspiring to kill protesters, was wheeled into the courtroom on a hospital bed and stationed in a cage with his two sons Gamal and Alaa, who are also on trial, and other co-defendants (putting defendants in cages is customary in Egyptian courtrooms). As the hearings dragged on, cameras caught Mubarak picking his nose and Gamal (in his white prison uniform on left) checking his watch.
The Next Web's Nancy Messieh highlighted a shot of several people at the hearing blatantly sleeping:
"Egyptians on Twitter seem to have moved from excitement at seeing Mubarak in a cage to shock at how inefficient this trial is," Al Jazeera's Gregg Carlstom tweeted. Or, as Middle East analyst Mona Eltahawy put it, "Now we all know why #Mubarak came in on a bed. He knew he'd need it for a nap as lawyers went on and on." To Cairo-based Times of London correspondent Ashraf Khalil, the trial seemed like "a sinister plot to bore us all into submission," and one that "might be working too." Even the fake Twitter account @PresidentHosni had something to say: "I'm at the trial right now. Laying in bed Inside the cage. Boring Trial."
The most dramatic moments of the trial's first day came outside the courtroom. Egyptian riot police had to break up fighting and rock-throwing that erupted between pro- and anti-Mubarak demonstrators:
Egyptians across the country also watched the televised proceedings, including some on giant screens outside the courtoom:
For now, the judge has sent the 83-year-old Mubarak, who, along with his sons, plead not guilty, to a military hospital outside Cairo until the trial resumes on August 15. He will be monitored by an oncologist--a decision that has sparked further speculation about Mubarak's health and whether he's suffering from cancer. The AP has video of the former Egyptian leader arriving in court on a hospital bed:
In perhaps the most bizarre moment of the trial, a lawyer representing the protesters claimed that Mubarak had died in 2004 and been replaced by an "imposter," and demanded DNA tests. Sultan Al Qassemi snagged a photo of the lawyer speaking into a microphone before he was silenced.