CAIRO: An Egyptian court said it will deliver its verdict in the murder trial of Hosni Mubarak on September 27, in a session yesterday in which the ousted leader passionately defended his 30-year rule.
Mubarak and seven security aides are accused of involvement in the deaths of hundreds of protesters during the 18-day uprising that toppled him in 2011. A previous sentence of life in prison was overturned on technical grounds.
The 86-year-old attended the court in a wheel chair, dressed in a blue uniform signifying his conviction on corruption charges earlier this week.
In his address to the court, Mubarak, after replacing his trademark shades with reading glasses, read out a long speech defending his record, spanning his career as a military officer to his final days in power in February 2011.
"This may be my last speech," he told the court. "As my life approaches its end, thank Almighty I have a good conscience, and I am satisfied I spent it in defence of Egypt.
"The Hosni Mubarak before you would never have ordered the killings of protesters," he said.
His speech touched on what he said were the achievements of his three-decade rule. He said he "achieved the highest economic growth in Egypt's history."
He also defended himself against separate corruption charges he is facing, along with his two sons, on which the court will also rule on September 27.
Once reviled along with his police forces, whose abuses helped fuel the 2011 uprising, Mubarak's era is now recalled nostalgically by many after four years of unrest since his overthrow.
His elected successor, Mohamed Morsi, was also toppled—by the military—in July 2013 after a turbulent year in office, sparking a wave of unrest that has killed more than 1,400 people, mostly hardliners.
Once hailed as a "popular revolution," Mubarak's overthrow has increasingly since been portrayed by government officials and domestic media as a conspiracy involving foreign powers and militants.
"It was a conspiracy," insisted Mubarak's former interior minister Habib Al Adly in court yesterday, also in a speech defending himself against the murder charges.
Adly blamed the Palestinian movement Hamas in neighbouring Gaza and Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood for protester deaths during the most violent day of the revolt, January 28, 2011.
"They (Hamas) were shooting protesters, along with the Brotherhood. They went on roof tops, entered homes, to shoot at the protesters. Why? To enrage the protesters," he said.
Adly, whose tenure under Mubarak was marred by police brutality and torture, cited several senior security witnesses who testified at his trial, all exonerating him, he said.
He suggested the "conspiracy" of the 2011 uprising included the United States and other powers, an increasingly common supposition in Egypt.
The military, led by now elected President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi, had toppled Morsi after several days of protests in June 2013 that were supported by the rehabilitated police.
"January 25 was not a revolution," Adly said of the 2011 uprising. "But June 30 was a revolution," he said, referring to Morsi's ouster.