The trial of ousted Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive] was adjourned on Sunday and will not resume until December 28. Mubarak and his co-defendants were present in the courtroom for the short hearing at which the lengthy adjournment was announced. Mubarak is facing charges of complicity in the deaths of more than 800 protesters [JURIST report] during the pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt [JURIST news archive] that resulted in Mubarak stepping down in February [JURIST report]. The adjournment will allow the court time to rule on a motion made by lawyers representing the victims' families to have the three judge panel in the case removed. The victims' families argue they were not given enough time [Al Jazeera report] to question Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi [GlobalSecurity profile], head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) [NYT backgrounder] currently ruling Egypt. Tantawi, who served as Mubarak's defense minister for over 20 years, testified against Mubarak in a closed-session but left early and refused to be cross-examined by counsel for the victims. Due to the closed-session, nothing has been revealed about the testimony [AP report], nor how the lawyers' actions stem from it. A ruling on that motion is expected on November 3.
Mubarak is on trial for murder, attempted killing of protesters and other charges related to general abuse of power [Al Jazeera report] stemming from his response to pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt earlier this year. Mubarak's sons, Gamal and Alaa, are also on trial for corruption charges. Mubarak's trial began on August 3 [JURIST report] with Mubarak and his sons pleading not guilty to all charges. In July, officials chose a new location for Mubarak's trial for security reasons after reporting [JURIST reports] that the trial would take place in downtown Cairo. Also in July, an Egyptian criminal court postponed the trial [JURIST report] of former interior minister Habib el-Adly, who also faces murder charges in relation to the pro-democracy demonstrations, so it would coincide with Mubarak's trial. In March, a commission of Arab and Egyptian human rights groups accused Mubarak [JURIST report] and the police of murdering protesters during the demonstrations in Egypt. Mubarak could face the death penalty [JURIST report] if convicted of ordering attacks on protesters.