Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi testified in Mubarak’s trial on September 24 under a total media blackout. Leaks of his testimony suggested that he sought to absolve Mubarak of any responsibility for the killing of nearly 850 protesters during the 18-day uprising that forced him to step down on February 11.
Mubarak is charged with complicity in the killings. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
In comments carried Sunday by Egypt’s official news agency, Tantawi said: “My testimony in the case of the killings of the protesters was the testimony of a sincere man and a soldier of 40 years, one for God and Egypt... We were not ordered to open fire at citizens and we will never do that.”
His remarks, however, did not address the question of whether the Police and other internal Security Forces that were behind the deadly crackdown on protesters had received orders to shoot. The Army, too, was called out on the streets during the uprising, but remained neutral.
Tantawi was Mubarak’s Defense Minister for some 20 years. He and two dozen Generals who sit on the now-ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces took control of the country from Mubarak when he stepped down, pledging to return the country to civilian rule after a transition period.
Source: The Associated Press; Photo: Reuters