Many see Mubarak's illness as a ploy to avoid trial over the killing of protesters during February's uprising [REUTERS]

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's hospitalised former president who is due to stand trial next week over the killing of protesters during February's uprising, is reported to be weak and refusing solid food.

Mubarak "is completely refusing to eat food but consumes some liquids and juice only. He lost a lot of weight and suffers weakness and severe infirmity," the official MENA news agency quoted the head of the hospital where Mubarak is being treated as saying on Tuesday.

The condition of the 83-year-old former leader has been a frequent subject for speculation. Many Egyptians see his illness as a ploy to avoid trial.

Mubarak has been in hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since April when he was first questioned by the authorities.

He has been charged with involvement in the killing of protesters and abuse of power and is due to stand trial on August 3.

A Cairo court is handling the case but judicial and security sources have indicated that the trial could take place in Sharm el-Sheikh. There has been no official statement so far suggesting the trial would be moved.

Mansour el Essawi, Egypt's minister of interior, has said security has been finalised for the trial of Mubarak, his two sons, the former Interior minister and six of his top aides regardless of whether the trial is held in Cairo or Sharm el-Sheikh.

The final decision will be taken by the head of the Cairo appeals court in conjunction with Judge Ahmed Refaat, the head of the criminal court who will be presiding over the trial on August 3.

If the trial takes place in Sharm el-Sheikh, the military will assume the responsibility of transporting the defendants by military helicopter to ensure their safety.

The final preparations are being made at the courthouse in Sharm el-Sheikh. The courthouse in New Cairo is already ready for the event.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies