The trial of Egypt's ousted President Hosni Mubarak, which was due to resume on Sunday, will be postponed until a decision is made on whether to change the panel presiding over the case, said lawyers on Saturday.
Some of the lawyers representing families of those killed in an uprising against Mubarak's rule have demanded changes to the panel after complaining it had failed to give them adequate time to question Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the army council now ruling Egypt.
Lawyers told Reuters the current panel headed by Judge Ahmed Refaat will either hold a session to adjourn the trial while remanding the defendants in prison or will postpone it through administrative methods without holding the session.
The case is suspended until a decision is reached on Refaat, said Hassan Abul Enen, a lawyer representing the families.
The delay will add to public frustration over the pace of the trial.
Al-Shorouk newspaper reported on Saturday the three judges appointed to decide on the lawyers' request to change the panel in the Mubarak trial had resigned.
The head of the cassation court now has to appoint a new team of judges who will rule on the lawyers' demand, a move likely to further delay the trial of the former president.
The panel had previously postponed hearing the demand until December, saying it needed to review Refaat's record and background, specifically requesting details of any consultancy positions he was involved in.
Judicial sources told Reuters on Saturday the Supreme Judiciary Council, the highest judicial authority in Egypt, said in a report that Refaat has not been appointed in any governmental positions since 1998.
Egyptian judges are often used by government ministries or bodies, a practice critics say has often brought the objectivity of some judges into doubt.
Refaat has a reputation of working by the book and following procedures. He has been praised for his independence by the media.
(Reporting By Tamim Elyan)