The verdict in the trial of Hosni Mubarak is due on Saturday. The ousted Egyptian president is accused of complicity in the killings of protesters who helped bring down his regime.
Whatever the outcome, human rights groups say the court case alone is a major step.
Heba Morayef, a lawyer for Human Rights Watch, explained: “This trial is hugely significant for Egypt because it broke the absolute impunity that Presidents in Egypt enjoyed. In terms of establishing respect for the rule of law – setting limits for what the President can do – its importance cannot be underestimated.
“And regionally also because it’s the first time an Arab leader appears in court – to be tried in a normal court of law.”
In Tahrir Square, the epicentre of last year’s uprising, there is little sympathy for Mubarak, but little faith in the country’s judicial system either.
One man said he thought Mubarak would be cleared or get a suspended sentence at the most. He said that as 80 percent of junior officers who have faced charges have been cleared, there was little chance the man who gave the orders would get a life sentence or the death penalty.
Another said execution would be the only fair verdict given how Mubarak had treated the Egyptian people.
There have been frequent clashes between pro and anti-Mubarak groups since the trial began in August.
The verdict, coming in between the two rounds of the election that will give Egypt a new president, could provoke even more violence.
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