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Egypt's Military Ruler Postpones Testimony in Mubarak Trial

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt's ruling military council (file photo)

Egypt's military ruler has postponed his testimony at the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak, saying he is busy with a national security situation.

Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi was due to testify behind closed doors on Sunday. Reports and judicial sources say his testimony is now scheduled for September 24, after he sent a message to the court saying he could not attend. Cairo has experienced unrest since Egyptians stormed the Israeli embassy on Friday.

Reports say armed forces chief Lieutenant General Sami Enan's testimony is postponed from Monday to September 25.

It is unprecedented for an Egyptian court to summon such high-level military officials. Their testimonies could be crucial in determining whether Mubarak is guilty or innocent in the killing of protesters during the uprising that began in late January. Some of 850 people died in the unrest.

The former Egyptian president has pleaded not guilty to the charges. He also is accused of corruption and abuse of power.

Tantawi heads the ruling military council and served as Mubarak's intelligence chief. The former president's lawyers requested that Tantawi testify earlier this month. They argued that he effectively "took control" of the country after January 28, when troops were deployed to Cairo to disperse anti-government protesters.

Mubarak has entered the Cairo courtroom on a stretcher and listened to the court proceedings while lying on a bed inside the court's large metal cage. He is being tried along with former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and six deputies.

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

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