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If convicted, Mubarak could face a life sentence or have it reduced. Under Egyptian law, a defendant cannot face a harsher sentence in a retrial, meaning the former leader cannot face the death penalty.

A new trial for Mubarak could further unsettle the nation at a perilous time.

Egypt is grappling with an ailing economy. The Egyptian pound’s value is slipping against the U.S. dollar. Foreign reserves are shrinking, and tourism is in a deep slump. Politically, the country is deeply divided by the bitter rivalry between its Islamist rulers and their allies and an opposition led by liberals and secularists.

Clashes between the two sides left at least 10 people killed and hundreds wounded last month.

The judge also ordered a retrial of Mubarak’s former security chief, Habib el-Adly, convicted and sentenced to life in prison on the same charges.