Civilian courts have no authority to hear corruption charges against ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak because he reverted to his former military rank when he quit, his defence lawyer Farid al-Deeb said on Thursday.
Deeb cited a law adopted in 1979, during the presidency of Mubarak's predecessor Anwar Sadat, which exempts senior military officers from going into retirement and stipulates that if they take up civilian posts, they regain their military rank afterwards.
"Under this law, Hosni Mubarak rejoined the armed forces (when he resigned in February 2011), keeping the rank he formerly had, which is to say that he became General Hosni Mubarak once again," the lawyer told the court.
He also referred to a decree by Egypt's ruling military council, which stipulates that "military justice alone is authorised to try cases of illicit gains by the military."
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"Consequently, the accusations directed at the former president by the prosecutor general regarding illicit gains are not admissible," Deeb said.
Mubarak -- who is in custody detained in a military hospital where he is being treated for a heart condition -- went on trial on August 3, after protesters stepped up demonstrations calling on the ruling military to try him and other former regime officials.
The prosecution has called for Egypt's ailing former strongman to be hanged for the killing of hundreds of demonstrators during the January-February 2011 revolt that forced him out of power.
Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, are also being tried on separate charges of corruption.
The last hearing is set for February 16.
The court is then expected to recess for deliberation after which the judge will set a date for the verdict.