Mubarak Testifies as Morsi Tried Over Prison Escape That Included Hamas Members

At successor's trial, former Egyptian president says former intelligence chief told him in 2011 that hundreds of militants infiltrated Egypt from Gaza

Egyptian judge Mohammed Shirin Fahmi (background) listens to the testimony of former president Hosni Mubarak (front), during the retrial of members of the now-banned Muslim Brotherhood on December 26, 2018.
MOHAMED EL-SHAHED / AFP

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was in court on Wednesday to testify in a retrial of his successor, Mohammed Morsi, who faces charges related to a mass prison escape that included members of Hamas, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood.

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Morsi, Egypt's first democratically elected president, was ousted by the military in July 2013 following mass protests that demanded his removal after one year in power.

Morsi and 26 other defendants face charges of premeditated and attempted murder as well as helping up to 20,000 people escape prison.

In his testimony, Mubarak said that former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman had told him on January 29, 2011, that around 800 militants infiltrated the eastern border of Egypt through tunnels.

He said that the militants crossed into Egypt from Gaza and that they were mainly affiliated with Hamas.

Mubarak added that they used weapons and attacked security forces in North Sinai and then stormed prisons to help prisoners from Hamas, Hezbollah and the Muslim Brotherhood, from which Morsi hails, escape.

He further said that they fired at protesters from above buildings in squares in Cairo and other cities. 

Mubarak refused to answer some questions asked by the judge, saying he needed permission from the Armed Forces.

Earlier in the month Mubarak failed to make a court appearance in the case. His lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, had told the Cairo Criminal Court that the former president was a member of the military and that he had to obtain permission from the Armed Forces to appear in court.

Morsi was initially sentenced to death in June 2015 before the top appeals court overturned the sentence and ordered a retrial in November 2016.