Amid the tension, President Mohammed Morsi met with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Cairo for more than two hours on Sunday, a day after the top American diplomat met six opposition figures out of 11 who were invited. The other five declined to meet Kerry because of Washington's insistence that all Egyptians take part in next month's elections.
Morsi and his government argue that parliamentary elections will help put the country on the right track, enabling him and the legislature to tackle a deteriorating economy.
But the opposition argues that elections are likely to inflame the already tense atmosphere and have called for a boycott of the vote. The mostly liberal and secular opposition accuses the Islamist president of failing to seek consensus over critical issues, such as the drafting of the constitution and the elections law. Morsi opponents accuse him of working to empower his Muslim Brotherhood and ensuring its lock on power.
Meanwhile, the opposition has threatened to escalate its anti-government street campaign and organize its boycott of the elections.
The retrial of Mubarak, beginning April 13, is likely to intensify the tense political atmosphere in Egypt. It is due to start about a week before the beginning of parliamentary elections.
Many Egyptians want to see a conviction against Mubarak that leads to a death sentence for the former autocrat for his role in the crackdown that killed nearly 900 people during the 2011 uprising against his regime. Mubarak, 84, has been in detention since April 2011 and is currently being held in a military hospital.
He and his former interior minister were each sentenced in June to life in prison for failing to prevent the killing of demonstrators during the 18-day uprising that ended his 29-year rule. In January, an appeals court overturned the sentences and ordered a retrial, raising public anger over what was seen as a shoddy prosecution in the first case.
Morsi promised during his election campaign that he would put former regime officials back on trial if new evidence was discovered.
The proceedings in Mubarak's retrial could help resolve unanswered questions over who ordered the crackdown and who executed it. Nearly all security officials were acquitted in separate trials related to the deaths of protesters.
In January, the appeals court ruled that during Mubarak's first trial, the prosecution's case lacked concrete evidence and failed to prove the protesters were killed by the police, indirectly giving credence to the testimony of top Mubarak-era officials that "foreigners" and others were behind the killings between Jan. 25 and Feb. 1, 2011.
Authors of a recently concluded confidential report by a fact-finding mission appointed by Morsi told reporters that they have established the use of deadly firearms by the police against protesters.
Judge Samir Aboul-Maati said the retrial before a criminal court will include six other senior security officials who were acquitted in the first trial.
Mubarak's two sons and a business associate also will be retried on corruption charges. The sons, onetime heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa, are in jail while on trial for insider trading and using their influence to buy state land at a fraction of its market value. Their business associate, Hussein Salem, was tried in absentia. He is currently in Spain.
El Deeb and Associated Press Writer Aya Batrawy contributed reporting from Cairo.
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