The criminal trial for Hosni Mubarak, televised for all the Arab world to see, began Wednesday with the once-powerful, longtime autocratic ruler of Egypt denying all formal charges against him of corruption and of complicity in the killing of protesters.

From behind courtroom bars, his frail body laid out on a medical gurney, Mubarak told the judge, “I deny all these accusations completely.”

Thousands of people gathered to view the proceedings, expressing doubt that the trial would go on under normal conditions. Some were concerned that Mubarak might not appear for fear of humiliation or because of his precarious health. Others feared the judge would quickly adjourn or dismiss the case. But opening-day proceedings for the trial took about four hours, and charges against Mubarak didn’t come up until well into the second hour. — BF

The New York Times:

Even the most ardent in calling for his prosecution doubted until hours before the trial began that Mr. Mubarak, 83, would appear in a cage fashioned of bars and wire mesh, a reflection of the suspicion and unease that reigns in a country whose revolution remains unresolved. As a helicopter ferried him to the courtroom, housed in a police academy that once bore his name, cheers went up from a crowd gathered outside.

“The criminal is coming!” shouted Maged Wahba, a 40-year-old lawyer.

The sheer symbolism of the day, covered live by television and watched by millions, made it one of the most visceral episodes in the Arab world, where uprisings have shaken the rule of authoritarian leaders. In a region whose destiny was so long determined by rulers who deemed their people unfit to rule, one of those rulers was being tried by his public. On this day, the aura of power — uncontested and distant — was made mundane, and Mr. Mubarak, the former president, dressed in white and bearing a look some read as disdain, was humbled.

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