Decoding Mubarak's trial

I have a short piece in the Guardian as part of their "decoding the news" series, in which I adress why the trial is no longer televised, what's expected in the witness testimonies, and what the clashes outside the courtoom are about. Here's the bit about the witnesses:

Initial witnesses will focus on the orders being given by Mubarak and other senior officials to deal with the mass protests that began on 25 January. What the prosecution will try to prove is that Mubarak approved of shoot-to-kill orders, the deployment of snipers, and other measures taken by security forces before Mubarak stepped down. The time period that will be most intensely examined is between 25 January and 28 January (when the police retreated from the streets and the military deployed) and the "Battle of the Camel" in Tahrir Square on February 2-3, when pro-Mubarak thugs fought (and lost) a battle to regain the square from protesters. Those who testified today are part of a group of senior ministry of interior officers who were in the ministry's operations room in the first days of the uprising.

There is some controversy over who might be summoned: among the witnesses Mubarak's lawyer wants to testify is Egypt's current interim ruler, minister of defence Mohammed Hussein Tantawi. If the already unpopular Tantawi was in the loop in the decision-making process over the repression of protesters, it could make his position untenable.

Read the rest here.

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Issandr El Amrani

Issandr El Amrani is a Cairo-based writer and consultant. His reporting and commentary on the Middle East and North Africa has appeared in The Economist, London Review of Books, Financial Times, The National, The Guardian, Time and other publications. He also publishes one of the longest-running blog in the region, www.arabist.net.