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Middle East
Ex-Egyptian minister denies fraud
Habib al-Adly, the first member of Hosni Mubarak's ousted regime to be tried for corruption, pleads not guilty in court.
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2011 10:23 GMT
Al-Adly was arrested on suspicion of money-laundering less then a week after Mubarak stepped down [AFP]

The trial of Habib al-Adly, Egypt's former interior minister, has been adjourned after he pleaded not guilty to corruption charges at a court in Cairo.

Standing in the dock and dressed in white prison clothes, Adly denied accusations of money laundering and unlawful acquisition of public money.

"It didn't happen," he said twice, in a calm tone on Saturday.

Judge Al-Mohammadi Qunsua swiftly adjourned the hearing to April 2, after a heated exchange between the defence team and civil society lawyers attending the trial.

The defence had asked for more time to study the documents of the case.

Al-Adly was brought back to the prison where he will stay until the trial resumes.

Demand for death penalty

Cairo's criminal court in the Tagammu Khames suburb was surrounded by heavy security and army tanks were positioned at the entrance ahead of the high-profile trial.

Al Jazeera's Sherine Tadros, outside the court complex, said dozens of protesters had gathered there.

"They want Habib al-Adly to face more serious charges than just money laundering and profiteering which carries a maximum sentence of about seven years," she said.

"They want him to face charges on man slaughter for ordering his forces fire on protesters during the revolution. They're calling for his execution."

She said al-Adly was mobbed by the crowds when he left the courtroom.

A group chanted "the people want the execution of the murderer" as others held banners depicting al-Adly with a noose around his neck.

Al-Adly is the first member of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's regime to stand trial.

He was arrested last month as part of a sweeping corruption investigation by the new authorities, along with several former ministers and senior members of Mubarak's National Democratic Party.

Mubarak stepped down on February 11 following a popular uprising. Several former ministers and high officials have since been arrested, accused of embezzlement.

Egypt's public prosecutor has issued a travel ban on Mubarak and his family and ordered a freeze on their assets.

State security buildings seiged

Hours after al-Adly's court case was adjourned, protests had started forming around several state security buildings in Egypt, the largest crowd was formed in Nasr City, east of Cairo.

Rania Anaa, a protester who took part in the demonstration, told Al Jazeera: "Since 13GMT, hundreds of protesters had gathered in front of the state security building in Nasr City. A few hours later, I could estimate at least 3,000 people.

"The protesters managed to enter the state security compound from a side door, and they searched the building and found hundreds of documents,"  Anaa said in reference to files that have been kept on the population by the powerful regime apparatus of President Hosni Mubarak long accused of rights abuses.

Anaa said: "Now, we are trying to search for detainees because a lot of the protesters here believe there are hundreds of detaines being kept underground.

"I also heard that officials from the attorney general's office are coming to retrieve the documents and make proper use of them," she said.

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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