CAIRO – An Egyptian judge on Saturday postponed the trial of the country's former interior minister and four of his top aides in the deadly shooting of protesters after chaos broke out in the courtroom, with families of the victims shouting "Butcher! Butcher!" at the defendants.
Habib el-Adly is the highest-ranking former regime official to be brought to trial so far in the killings of 846 protesters and the injury of thousands of others during the uprising that forced ex-president Hosni Mubarak to step down on Feb. 11. If convicted, el-Adly could face the death penalty.
Outside the heavily guarded courtroom north of Cairo, families of the victims held up pictures of their dead relatives and posters calling for the death penalty. They pushed down security barricades in their rush to enter the courtroom. Once inside, the families shouted "Butcher!" at el-Adly.
The chaos prompted the judge to postpone the trial to June 26. Plaintiffs' lawyers presented a request to change the judge because of what they said was his friendship with el-Adly.
El-Adly served as Mubarak's interior minister for 13 years, a time during which his 500,000-strong security forces were blamed for some of the worst human rights violations Egypt had seen in decades. Anger over police brutality, particularly by members of the notorious state security agency, was a main motive for the uprising.
Earlier, El-Adly was convicted of money laundering and corruption charges and sentenced to 12 years in prison and fined about $2.5 million. He also faces a third trial on corruption charges.