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Egypt court rejects motion for new judge in Mubarak trial

An Egyptian court on Wednesday rejected the prosecution's motion for a new judge in the trial of former president Hosni Mubarak [Al Jazeera profile; JURIST news archive] and fined the prosecution for making the request. Lawyers representing Mubarak's alleged victims filed the petition, claiming that presiding Judge Ahmed Refaat showed bias in favor of Mubarak [AFP report] and overlooked proper courtroom procedure. Due to the closed-session, nothing has been revealed about the testimony [AP report], nor how the lawyers' actions stem from it. Mubarak faces several charges [JURIST report], including murder, attempted killing of protesters and general abuse of power. Mubarak is facing charges of complicity in the deaths of more than 800 protesters [JURIST report] during the pro-democracy demonstrations in Egypt [JURIST news archive] that resulted in him stepping down in February [JURIST report].

Mubarak's trial is scheduled to resume on December 28, after being postponed [JURIST report] in October to allow the court to rule on the prosecution's motion to removed the three-judge panel. The victims' families argued they were not given enough time [Al Jazeera report] to question Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi [GlobalSecurity profile], head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) [NYT backgrounder] ruling Egypt. Tantawi, who served as Mubarak's defense minister for over 20 years, testified against Mubarak in a closed-session but left early and refused to be cross-examined by counsel for the victims. The trial was also suspended [JURIST report] from September until October on judicial bias claims. Mubarak pleaded not guilty [JURIST report] to all charges when the trial began in August. Mubarak could face the death penalty [JURIST report] if convicted of ordering attacks on protesters.

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