Hosni Mubarak goes on trial in hospital bed

August 3, 2011

This video image taken from Egyptian state television shows 83-year-old Hosni Mubarak lying on a hospital bed inside a cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom on Aug. 3. (AP)

Ailing former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, 83, lay inside a cage in a Cairo courtroom Wednesday as he pleaded not guilty to charges of corruption and ordering the killing protesters earlier this year.

“The former autocrat’s courtroom appearance gripped millions of Egyptians awestruck by the reversal of fortune of a man who ruled the Arab world’s most populous nation for three decades with an iron fist,” The Post’s Ernesto Londono and Leila Fadel report.

Watch a video as Mubarak arrives in court:

After seeing video of their deposed leader in the courtroom, some Egyptians replaced their Facebook profile photo with a screen grab of Mubarak lying on a stretcher.

On Twitter, Brazilian political cartoonist Carlos Latuff published a cartoon that showed Mubarak in a hospital bed taking directions for a film director, who told him, “Okay, Mubarak, now play victim!”

Latuff, who has been making cartoons about the Egypt protests for several months, said, “I was watching Mubarak’s trial on TV and felt myself amused for the way Mubarak is portrayed as a weak and ill old man.... I believe the decision of bringing him to court in a stretcher is probably more related to the lawyer’s strategy than the doctor’s advice. I see Mubarak’s lawyer directing a farce.”

The cartoon got 10,689 hits in just 40 minutes, according to Latuff.

The cartoon:


(Carlos Latuff)

Leila Fadel, who was in the courtroom during the trial, reports that others believed his ill health was embellished:

Lawyers of the relatives of slain protesters said #Mubarak’s hair looked pretty good for a sick man. Called his illness acting.less than a minute ago via Twitter for BlackBerry® Favorite Retweet ReplyLeila Fadel
LeilaFadel

Mubarak’s lawyer has argued the former leader is too ill to be put on trial, but Egypt’s health minister certified that he was capable of standing trial. He is expected back in court on Aug. 15.

In an audio recording from Cairo, Fadel reports that the image of a weak president on a gurney and in a cage could lead to divisions in the country. The image was “insulting and upsetting for some Egyptian who respected the leader, while others were upset the trial was adjourned,” she says.

Listen to Fadel talk about what she calls “a true moment in history for not only Egypt, but the Arab world”:

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