Former Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak testified in a Cairo court on Wednesday, in a case in which deposed president Mohammed Morsi faces charges over a 2011 prison break. It is the first time Mubarak and Morsi have faced each other in court.
Mubarak was president in January 2011 when protests against his regime erupted in Cairo and other Egyptian cities.
As a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood, Morsi was arrested on January 28, 2011 in a roundup designed to quash the uprising threatening Mubarak's almost 30 year presidency.
Two days later he and hundreds of other inmates escaped from prison.
Morsi went on to win Egypt's first ever democratic presidential election in June 2012 but was deposed in a popularly backed military coup a little over a year later.
He was later sentenced to death in May 2015 along with 105 others in connection with the 2011 jail break, but a higher court later overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial, which is ongoing.
The 90-year-old Mubarak walked with a cane into court on Wednesday wearing a dark suit and flanked by his sons Gamal and Alaa. His appearance was in stark contrast to earlier court dates after he himself was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2012 over the death of protesters during the 2011 uprising. During subsequent appeals, the former president frequently appeared on a gurney or in a wheelchair, looking on the brink of death. Mubarak was eventually acquitted by Egypt's top appeal body, the Court of Cassation, and released in 2017.
During Wednesday's appearance, Mubarak suggested that in 2011 Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood were responsible for “crossing the border into Egypt” from Gaza to break into jails to release members of their respective organisations, but he refused to answer specific questions.
“It’s difficult to answer the question, because there are other ramifications for answering,” he told the judge. “To answer I would have to reveal state secrets, I don’t want to be vindicated from one case and be embroiled in another”.
Mubarak said he needed approval from current president Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and the military to provide answers.
“Get me approval and I’ll talk about everything,” he said.