CAIRO — Egypt’s highest appeals court on Thursday revived charges against former President Hosni Mubarak in connection with hundreds of protester deaths that came as his autocratic rule was drawing to a close more than four years ago.

If the case advances, it would be Mubarak’s third trial on the charges. He was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for failing to stop the killing of protesters by security forces, but a criminal court overturned that conviction in November, seemingly bringing the case to a conclusion.

The prosecutor had the right under law, however, to seek permission from the Court of Cassation to try the case again. That was granted in Thursday’s ruling, though the court upheld the dismissal of charges against seven co-defendants.

There can be no appeal of the outcome of the new trial, which is to begin in November.

The tortuous legal proceedings against the former leader reflect the political turmoil that has gripped Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster in 2011. After three decades of Mubarak’s dictatorial rule, Egyptians initially clamored to see him brought to justice.

Human rights groups hold the current Egyptian government responsible for the deaths of far more unarmed demonstrators than those who died in the waning days of Mubarak’s rule. But the more recent killings — part of a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood, the movement of former President Mohamed Morsi — have been cast as part of a wider regional fight against Islamist militants, even though the Brotherhood has always proclaimed itself to be committed to nonviolence.

Mubarak, 87, who has been confined to a military hospital for much of the time since his ouster, has also faced charges associated with graft and corruption that carry prison terms and fines. But the murder-related charges, stemming from authorities’ violent attempts to quell the mass uprising against him, were the most serious.

Court proceedings at first riveted the country, but the novelty faded as the legal case dragged on and new tumult erupted.

The country’s first freely elected president, the deposed Islamist Morsi, is now imprisoned and facing a number of criminal charges. A court has already handed down a preliminary death sentence in one of the cases, and that sentence is due to be affirmed or rejected by the appeals court this month.


©2015 Los Angeles Times

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