Judge Ahmed Refaat will set the date to announce his verdict in a court session next Wednesday in the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile, JURIST news archive], the judge told the court Thursday. Mubarak's lawyers will have their opportunity to make their final remarks [Reuters report] at the Wednesday court session, in which they will respond to the prosecution's arguments. Mubarak is facing charges of complicity by ordering the killings of at least 840 protesters [JURIST report] during the Egyptian revolution [JURIST news archive] early last year after which Mubarak stepped down from office [JURIST report]. If convicted, Mubarak could face the death penalty [JURIST report]. Many fear if Mubarak is given a light sentence it could spark another round of violence.
Mubarak's trial started [JURIST report] in August 2011 and has been making slow progress. The trial resumed in December in the Egyptian court after a two-month adjournment [JURIST reports] allowing 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 argued that they were not given enough time to question the Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi [GlobalSecurity profile], head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) [NYT backgrounder], who testified against Mubarak [JURIST report] in a closed session in September 2011, but left early and refused to be cross-examined by counsel of the victims. In December 2011 the court also rejected the prosecution's motion [JURIST report] for a new judge and fined the prosecution for making such request. The motion was based on the allegation that Judge Refaat was showing bias in favor of Mubarak [AFP report].