Former intelligence chief quizzed at Mubarak trial

One of the most secretive figures of Hosni Mubarak's inner circle gave evidence yesterday at the ousted leader's trial to face questions about whether his former boss ordered the use of lethal force against protesters.

Omar Suleiman, who was Mubarak's longtime intelligence chief and was named vice president during the last weeks of his rule, is the first in a string of members of the ousted leader's most senior entourage to appear in the court.

Egypt's current military ruler, who was Mubarak's defence minister, had been due in court on Sunday but failed to appear. It is unprecedented for a court in Egypt to summon such high-level figures.

The judge has closed the court for the sessions, barring anyone from attending except lawyers. Not only are journalists forbidden to attend, they are not allowed to report anything on the evidence or even quote lawyers who attended the session.

Mubarak, 83, his former interior minister and six other senior police officers face charges of complicity in the deaths of the protesters during the uprising that led to the president's ousting in February. They could face the death penalty if convicted.

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