Wednesday’s papers: New witnesses in the Mubarak trial, and encouraging words from finance minister

As Mubarak’s trial resumes Wednesday, both the prosecution and defense look to regroup after Monday’s proceedings, which were marred by clashes outside the courtroom as well as questionable witness testimonies.

Independent paper Al-Tahrir says the four witnesses who testified Monday raised fears among Egyptians for the first time that the trial might exonerate the deposed president.  Editor-in-chief Ibrahim Eissa pens an article questioning when a civilian witness will be put on the stand, as all the witnesses thus far have been police.

The Wafd party paper says that Monday’s testimonies were able to “save the former president from the gallows.”

State-run Al-Akhbar reports that the prosecution’s witnesses served the purpose of the defense team better than that of the prosecution. Several papers report on the differences between testimony witnesses gave in court and during initial interrogations.

According to Al-Akhbar’s legal sources, changing testimonies is not a crime, and it is up to the court’s discretion what to accept.  Al-Tahrir, however, gets clerics’ opinion on the matter, quoting Al-Azhar scholars saying that changing statements is considered false testimony.

Five Kuwaiti lawyers who came to court to aid Mubarak’s defense team finally got the proper paperwork allowing them to enter the courtroom and participate in the hearings, according to Egypt’s flagship paper, Al-Ahram.

An Al-Tahrir comic pokes fun at the Gulf nation’s curious decision to contribute to the deposed leader’s defense. “We’re returning the favor,” one Kuwaiti character says, to which the interrogator in the drawing replies: “Well, in that case, it’s really weird that Israel didn’t send anyone yet.”

In economic news, Al-Ahram reports that Finance Minister Hazem al-Beblawy has ordered a review of public sector wages following a meeting to discuss setting a maximum and minimum wage. Beblawy said a maximum wage for the highest earners must be implemented, according to the paper.  

On the same day, Beblawy sent Al-Wafd’s editor-in-chief a letter disclosing his own salary to be LE30,000 per month. “For the first time, a minister reveals his wages,” the paper writes. 

Plans for a mass Tahrir demonstration Friday are in the works, but, according to Al-Akhbar, participating factions disagree over their demands.

The general plan is to reiterate calls for the return of security to the streets, the end of military trials, quick trials for those responsible for killing protesters, and the creation of a clear road map for the transition to a civilian government, among other demands.

A report on independent paper Al-Shorouk’s website claims that following a meeting between the Muslim Brotherhood and Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, the Brotherhood agreed to withdraw from the 9 September protests. 

Egypt's papers:

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhurriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Youm7: Daily, privately owned

Al-Tahrir: Daily, privately owned

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

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