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Egyptian commission: Mubarak watched uprising that toppled him
CAIRO (AP) — Ousted President Hosni Mubarak watched the uprising against him unfold through a live TV feed to his palace, despite his denial that he knew the extent of the protests and crackdown against them, a member of a fact-finding mission said Wednesday. The finding could lead to the retrial of the 84-old former leader, already serving a life sentence.
In questioning for his trial for the deaths of some 900 protesters during the uprising, Mubarak said he was kept in the dark by top aides as to the gravity of the situation during the uprising, and he fended off charges that he ordered or knew of the deadly force used against the protesters.
Mubarak still was convicted in June of failing to prevent the deaths, but many Egyptians were angered that he was not convicted for ordering or having a direct role in the crackdown.
Ahmed Ragheb, a rights lawyer and a member of the commission, said state TV had designated a coded satellite TV station that fed live material from cameras installed in Tahrir Square and surrounding areas directly to Mubarak's palace throughout the 18-days of the uprising.
"Mubarak knew of all the crimes that took place directly. The images were carried to him live, and he didn't even need security reports," Mr. Ragheb told The Associated Press. "This entails a legal responsibility" in the violence against the protesters, including the infamous "Camel Battle," where men on horses and camels and other Mubarak supporters stormed the square trying to drive protesters out.
At least 11 people are said to be killed in that attack, and some 25 members of the ruling were tried in the case were set free.
The finding came in a 700-page report on protester deaths the past two years, submitted Wednesday to President Mohammed Morsi. Mr. Morsi formed the commission soon after he came to office in June, having promised during his election campaign that he would order retrials of former regime officials if new evidence were revealed.
The commission also found that security forces and the military used live ammunition in crackdowns on protesters during the 18-day uprising against Mubarak and during the 17 months of rule by the military that followed his Feb. 11, 2011, fall, Mr. Ragheb said. The military repeatedly denied that it used live ammunition against protesters, despite several deaths caused by bullets and pellets.
Mr. Ragheb refused to give specifics, saying that revealing the details could undermine the report and tip off some of those newly named in it as responsible for deaths.
He told the Al-Masry Al-Youm daily that the report recommends summoning hundreds implicated in the killings of protesters for questioning.
The commission's 16 members include judges, rights lawyers, representatives from the Interior Ministry and intelligence, in addition to family members of some of those killed in the protests. The report was based on evidence and testimony collected over five months.
Mr. Morsi on Wednesday asked the commission to hand its report to the general prosecutor to investigate its contents to determine what should be done, according to a statement by his office.
The fact that Mubarak was able to monitor events in Tahrir, if established, could lead to him being charged with premeditated murder, said Khaled Abu Bakr, a lawyer who represented some of the victims in the uprising.
"A retrial might add more jail time if new charges appeared, and it could also change the penalty from life sentence to the death penalty," Mr. Abu Bakr said.
The case against Mubarak and top aides was very limited in scope, focusing only on the uprising's first few days and two narrow corruption cases. Mubarak and his two sons were acquitted on corruption charges. His former interior minister, Habib el-Adly, was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for complicity in the crackdown, while six top security aides were acquitted.
Mubarak's life sentence failed to satisfy many who had called for him to be held responsible for ordering the killing, in addition to years of widespread corruption, police abuse and political wrongdoing under his regime.
The report of military use of live ammunition could be more controversial, since any attempt to try generals for protester deaths would spark a backlash from the powerful military.
The transition period managed by the generals who took over from Mubarak was turbulent. Protests against their management of the transition often included violent crackdowns in which at least 100 people died in clashes between protesters and soldiers. The military often blamed unknown assailants for shooting at protesters. Rights groups have held the military responsible for the violence before, but evidence of its use of live ammunition was rarely available.
• Mariam Rizk contributed to this article.
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