Mubarak 'deserves' the death penalty

'Retribution is the solution. Any fair judge must issue a death sentence for these defendants,' said Mustafa Khater on the third and final day of the prosecution's opening statement.

CAIRO // The prosecutor in the trial of Hosni Mubarak yesterday demanded the death penalty for the former Egyptian leader on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters during last year's uprising against his rule.

Mustafa Khater, one of a five-member prosecution team, also asked the judge for the death sentence for Mr Mubarak's security chief and six top police commanders being tried in the same case.

"Retribution is the solution. Any fair judge must issue a death sentence for these defendants," said Mr Khater on the third and final day of the prosecution's opening statement.

Mr Mubarak's two sons, the one-time heir apparent Gamal, and Alaa, face corruption charges in the same trial along with their father and a close family friend who is a fugitive.

An 18-day uprising forced Mr Mubarak, 83, to step down on February 11. The military, led by a general who served as defence minister under Mr Mubarak for 20 years, replaced him.

Earlier in yesterday's hearing, the chief prosecutor Mustafa Suleiman said Mr Mubarak was "politically and legally" responsible for the killing of the protesters and charged that the former president did nothing to stop the killings that he was aware of from meetings with aides, regional TV channels and reports by his security agencies.

He said Mr Mubarak's security chief and co-defendant, the former interior minister Habib El Adly, authorised the use of live ammunition on orders from the then president.

"He [Mubarak] can never, as the top official, claim that he did not know what was going on," Mr Suleiman told the court.

"He is responsible for what happened and must bear the legal and political responsibility for what happened. It is irrational and illogical to assume that he did not know that protesters were being targeted."

Addressing Mr Mubarak directly, Mr Suleiman said, "If you had not issued these orders yourself, then where was your outburst of rage over the lives of your people?"

Testimonies by two interior ministers who succeeded El Adly, he said, pointed out that the defendant could not have given the order to use live ammunition against the protesters without Mr Mubarak's personal approval, said Mr Suleiman.

Mr Suleiman said Mr Mubarak told investigators he decided to step down after the military refused to intervene to "immediately and urgently" help the security forces contain the protests.

Mr Mubarak called out the army on January 28 - three days into the uprising and on the day when security forces disappeared from the streets in circumstances that have yet to be fully explained.

He "fully knew what was happening but he did nothing," said Mr Suleiman.

Another prosecutor, Wael Hussein, said that one of the six police commanders on trial - the former chief of the state security agency Hassan Abdel-Rahman - had personally given orders to allow inmates to escape from a string of jails across the nation during the uprising.

The escapees, who numbered in the thousands, have been blamed for a dramatic surge in crime since January 28, when almost all vestiges of state authority collapsed.

Most of the inmates have since been captured and returned to jail, but Egypt continues to suffer from rampant crime.