CAIRO (Reuters) - The retrial of ousted leader Hosni Mubarak, his sons and top aides will begin next month, an Egyptian court said on Sunday, ordering the politically-fraught hearings over the killing of protesters to start just nine days before elections.
Mubarak, the first Arab ruler to be tried by his people after the uprisings that swept the Middle East and North Africa, was jailed for life for ordering the killing of demonstrators, but granted a retrial by a Cairo court in January.
The new proceedings could raise tensions at a time of political and economic turmoil in Egypt, which has seen waves of street unrest throughout the two years since Mubarak stepped down.
New Islamist President Mohamed Mursi accuses Mubarak supporters of fomenting some of the unrest.
One of Mubarak’s defense lawyers, Mohamed Abdel Razek, denounced the date of the retrial as politically-motivated and designed to keep the 84-year-old in detention.
Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades, has been detained for nearly two years and is currently in a Cairo military hospital.
“Setting April 13 as a date for the retrial is a political decision as Mubarak’s time in temporary jail ends on that day after which he should not be in jail unless the retrial had started,” Abdel Razek said.
His sons and other figures have also faced charges of corruption and squandering public funds, which are due to be reheard.
Mubarak’s sons Gamal and Alaa will go for retrial at the same time on charges of corruption and squandering public funds, the state news agency MENA reported.
The hearings are likely to overlap with the parliamentary vote, which begins on April 22 and will be held in four stages until late June. Many opposition parties say they will boycott the elections called by Mursi.
Businessman Hussein Salem, who was convicted in absentia in 2011, sentenced to seven years in jail and fined more than $4 billion for money laundering and profiteering, is also due to be retried for selling cheap gas to Israel and squandering public funds.
Writing by David Stamp; Editing by Peter Graff and David Cowell