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Top Mubarak Aide Testifies in Cairo


Omar Suleiman, front left, with protesters in Cairo (Feb. 2011 file photo).

Omar Suleiman, front left, with protesters in Cairo (Feb. 2011 file photo).

A senior member of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's inner circle testified Tuesday in a Cairo courtroom under a media blackout at the trial of his ex-boss.

Omar Suleiman, a longtime intelligence chief who served briefly as Egypt's vice president, was expected to face questions about whether the former president orchestrated a deadly backlash against protesters seeking his removal from office earlier this year.

It is unprecedented for an Egyptian court to summon high-level military and intelligence officials.

Egypt's current military ruler, who was Mubarak's defense minister, had been due to testify on Sunday but failed to appear. Aides said Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was busy with matters of national security due to violence outside the Israeli Embassy in Cairo during the weekend.

Reports and judicial sources say Tantawi's testimony is now scheduled for September 24. They say the testimony of Lieutenant General Sami Enan, Tantawi's Armed Forces Chief of Staff, was postponed from Monday to September 25.

The 74-year-old Suleiman, one of the most secretive figures in Mubarak's government, was the former president's point man in dealing with the protesters against his rule.

Suleiman arrived Tuesday morning at the Police Academy where the trial is being conducted. Journalists and outsiders are barred from the courtroom.

Mubarak, who enters the Cairo courtroom on a stretcher and listens to court proceedings from a bed inside the court's large metal cage, has pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption and complicity in the killing of protesters during the 18-day uprising that led to his resignation. He is also accused of abuse of power.

He is being tried along with former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and six deputies.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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