The landmark murder and corruption trial of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak enters its last day of hearings on Wednesday, with the judge expected to announce the date of the verdict.
The trial could see the toppled dictator, his interior minister Habib al-Adly and six security chiefs sent to the gallows if convicted of complicity in the deaths of peaceful protesters during the uprising that overthrew him a year ago.
Adly is expected to address the court on Wednesday, judicial sources said.
Mubarak could in theory hang if found guilty. The prosecution has called for the death penalty. But if sentenced, the former president would be able to appeal, according to judicial sources.
Mubarak, 83, has been brought into the hearings by helicopter from the hospital in the Cairo suburb where he is being held because of his ill-health, and then wheeled into the dock on a stretcher.
But the trial that was supposed to be a historic moment when the dictator is brought to justice by his long-suffering people, has been widely criticised as little more than political theatre.
The case is legally weak, lawyers have said, charging that the prosecution has taken to the microphone to deliver sermons rather than hard evidence.
The trial itself, which began in August, has been choppy -- a short investigation period, brief hearings, a three-month hiatus, incomplete testimonies and a speedy ending, the lawyers said.
Activists who joined the protests that toppled Mubarak last year say they would have rather seen him tried for abuse and mismanagement committed during his 30 years in power than for events that took place during a few days of the uprising.
Mubarak also shares the defendant's cage with his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, who face corruption charges along with their father.
The ruling military council, headed by Mubarak's long-time defence minister Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, has been eager to prove that it harbours no loyalty to its former master.
The Supreme Council of the Armed Forces has been the target of protesters' anger in the past months over accusations of mismanagement and human rights abuses.
If Mubarak is convicted, his lawyers and legal experts believe there would be strong grounds for appeal. And his acquittal could further inflame the growing protest movement against military rule.
Source: AFP Global Edition