With trial looming, hospitalized Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refuses to eat

Several banners are displayed at a protest camp in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Tuesday. This one reads, in Arabic, “We demand the immediate release of the political prisoners.” 

Associated Press

Several banners are displayed at a protest camp in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Tuesday. This one reads, in Arabic, “We demand the immediate release of the political prisoners.” 

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has refused to eat for four days, has lost weight and is weak, his chief doctor said Tuesday, increasing speculation that the ousted leader won't stand trial next week as scheduled.

Any delay in Mubarak's trial would probably further inflame tensions between the military council ruling Egypt since Mubarak's fall and protesters frustrated with the pace of change. Many Egyptians have already accused the army of dragging its feet in prosecuting former regime figures and officials accused of killing protesters during the 18-day uprising that toppled Mubarak on Feb. 11.

Clashes erupted last week in Cairo after thousands of protesters tried to march on the military's headquarters and were met by men with knives, stick and clubs. Hundreds were injured before security forces dispersed the crowds with clouds of tear gas.

On Tuesday, Assam Azzam, the head of Mubarak's medical team, said the former leader was weak and had lost weight after refusing to eat for four days.

Doctors at the hospital in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, where Mubarak has been under house arrest since April, said the former president consumes liquids but only when pressured by the medical team or his wife.

The doctors could feed him intravenously if his condition deteriorates, Azzam said. He added that the biggest threat to Mubarak's health is severe depression.

"We worry that his bad psychological state will affect his physical state," Azzam said.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt unchallenged for 29 years, is set to stand trial on Aug. 3 on charges of corruption and ordering the killing of protesters during the uprising, during which nearly 850 people were killed.

Mubarak's sons — onetime heir-apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa — are also to stand trial that day, along with former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and six of his aides.

Rumors about Mubarak's health have been rife. Critics suspect they are a ruse to prevent Mubarak from standing trial or even to sway public opinion toward granting him amnesty.

With trial looming, hospitalized Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak refuses to eat 07/26/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, July 26, 2011 11:21pm]

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