Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is seen in the courtroom for his trial at the Police Academy in Cairo, in this still image taken from video August 3, 2011. REUTERS

Deposed Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was wheeled into a Cairo court Monday to face charges of killing protesters during the revolution, his second appearance in the trial, state television reported.

An aircraft landed near the court building carrying Mubarak, who resigned Feb. 11. Reuters reporrted State TV later showed the ill, 83-year-old ex-ruler being taken out of an ambulance on a gurney.

The hearing could determine if the head of the ruling military council will testify about his longtime boss.

Defense lawyers say testimony by Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi on Mubarak's role in trying to suppress the revolution, in which more than 800 people were killed, could decide Mubarak's fate.

Tantawi, who was defense minister for two decades under Mubarak, heads the military council that took power when Mubarak quit Feb. 11.

Mubarak, accused of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters, went on trial Aug. 3 in a case that has gripped the Arab world, where rulers are seldom held to account for their actions.

The first Arab head of state to stand trial in person since popular uprisings swept the Middle East this winter, he faces charges that could carry the death penalty.

Hundreds of riot police stood guard outside the Cairo courthouse where the trial was to resume, cordoning it off Monday morning after a crowd of Mubarak supporters gathered, Reuters reported.

"He is Egyptian until death" and "Hosni Mubarak is not Saddam," chanted the throng, referring to the Iraqi dictator tried and executed in 2006.

"I am opposed to him being inside a cage. Why can't he sit on a chair? This is the law of Tahrir, not the rule of law," said Fekry, a 47-year-old Mubarak supporter.

On the first day of his trial, Mubarak appeared on a hospital bed, behind the bars of a courtroom cage with his sons, Gamal and Alaa, who will also appear again on Monday.

About 850 people were killed during the uprising and more than 6,000 wounded when security forces fired live rounds, rubber bullets and used water cannon and batons against the protesters.

The prosecution accuses Mubarak of authorizing the use of the live ammunition to quell the protests. Mubarak denied all accusations during the opening session, which was aired live in his first public appearance since resigning.


In the first court session, defense lawyers asked for Tantawi, former intelligence chief and Vice President Omar Suleiman and about 1,600 others to testify as witnesses.

Defense lawyers said the accounts would be vital for either incriminating or exonerating Mubarak from involvement in killing protesters.

"Tantawi's testimony would help the court determine whether Mubarak gave orders to Interior Minister Habib al-Adli to fire at protesters or whether Adli was acting independently," one member of the defense team, who asked not to be named, told Reuters.

A judge on Sunday set the next hearing for Adli and six of his lieutenants for Sept. 5.

Lawyers for the families of those killed have also demanded Tantawi testifyl.

"It is important for the court to meet the requests of the defense team, especially the request to hear the accounts of Field Marshal Tantawi in court to determine whether Mubarak asked him to confront and fire at protesters or not," the lawyer said.

"The defense team sees Tantawi as a witness whose testimony would exonerate Mubarak. The plaintiffs' lawyers, however, expect him to testify that he received orders to fire, which is necessary to convict Mubarak," another lawyer handling the case said.

Essam Soltan, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers, said Judge Ahmed Refaat would ask lawyers to justify their request to summon Tantawi to testify before ruling on it.

The cases of the defendants are interlinked and each could accuse his superior of giving the orders to fire, thus weakening the case against Mubarak, Soltan said.

The military said officers called in by the judge to give their testimony would attend. But a judicial source said that even if Tantawi were asked to testify, his testimony would come later in the trial to shield the army.

Tantawi's military council has promised a transition to democracy in the Arab world's most populous country -- a process far from complete.

(Additional reporting by Dina Zayed; Editing by Sami Aboudi, Alison Williams and Mark Heinrich)