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Panel: Mubarak watched 'Arab Spring' uprising on live TV, could trigger retrial

| Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, 9:26 p.m.
FILE - In this June 2, 2012 file photo, Egypt's ex-President Hosni Mubarak lays on a gurney inside a barred cage in the police academy courthouse in Cairo, Egypt. Ousted President Hosni Mubarak watched the uprising against him unfold through a live TV feed, despite his earlier denial that he knew the extent of the protests and violence, according to a fact-finding mission member said Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2013, which could lead to the retrial of the 84-old ousted leader already serving a life sentence.(AP Photo/File)

CAIRO — An Egyptian fact-finding mission has determined that Hosni Mubarak watched the uprising against him unfold in 2011 through a live TV feed at his palace, despite his later denial that he knew the extent of the protests and crackdown against them, a member of the mission said on Wednesday.

The mission's findings increase pressure for a retrial of the 84-year old ousted president, who is serving a life sentence for the deaths of 900 protesters. But its report could hold both political gains and dangers for his successor, Mohamed Morsy. A new prosecution of Mubarak would be popular because many Egyptians were angered that the former dictator was convicted only for failing to stop the killing of protesters, rather than for ordering the crackdown.

The report, however, also implicates the military and security officials in the protesters' deaths. Any move to prosecute them could spark a backlash from powerful generals and others who still hold positions under Morsy's government.

Rights activists said they will watch carefully how aggressively Morsy will pursue the evidence, detailed by the fact-finding mission that he commissioned.

“This report should be part of the democratic transformation of Egypt and restructuring of security agencies,” said Ahmed Ragheb, a member of the commission and a rights lawyer. “At the end of the day, there will be no national reconciliation without revealing the truth and ensuring accountability.”

Morsy, an Islamist from the Muslim Brotherhood, asked the commission to send the report to chief prosecutor Talaat Abdullah to investigate the new evidence, his office said Wednesday.

Morsy recently appointed Abdullah to replace a Mubarak holdover who many considered an obstacle to strongly prosecuting former regime officials. Some judges criticize the appointment as a political move to continue to wield leverage over the prosecutor post.

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