CAIRO — The spectacle of Hosni Mubarak, the deposed president, lying in a cage for trial will no longer be televised, the Egyptian judge hearing the case ruled Monday.
The decision will transform the public experience of the trial. The broadcast of the criminal trial’s first day, on Aug. 3, had served as a national catharsis for post-revolutionary Egypt and electrified the Arab world with the image of an autocrat brought down by his own people for the first time to the standing of an ordinary criminal. On Monday, the second day of proceedings, Judge Ahmed Refaat said he was turning off the cameras “to protect the public interest.”
Evidently, the Mubarak family was pleased. For most of the court day, the former president’s sons, Gamal and Alaa, who are facing charges of corruption along with their father, stood in white prison uniforms trying to block the cameras’ views of their father. But at the end they left smirking and waving. Gamal, once his father’s heir apparent, flashed a victory sign with two fingers of a bound hand.
Mr. Mubarak, 83, once again entered and left on a stretcher, though his face maintained the same frown and wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command that he wore at the height of his power. The metal cage the Mubaraks shared is the standard dock for defendants in an Egyptian criminal trial, and it imparts an unmistakable aura of guilt on its occupants before any verdict is rendered.
Some Egyptians complained that the judge’s decision robbed them of seeing their former ruler behind the bars. “Did we spend 23 days on the streets so that they show us Mubarak twice?” Salma Said, an activist, wrote on Twitter.
In a large parking lot outside the makeshift courtroom, a police academy auditorium refitted for the purpose, crowds of Mubarak supporters with T-shirts and posters emblazoned with the president’s face clashed with detractors who had come to watch the proceedings on a large-screen television, just as they had on the trial’s first day. This time, witnesses said, the Mubarak opponents had prepared in advance, stacking rocks in neat piles — some covered in tarps — to hurl at his supporters.
Hundreds of riot police officers, 3 armored personnel carriers and 10 police officers on horseback were on hand to break up the melee after less than 20 minutes, witnesses said.
On Sunday, the military council ruling Egypt since Mr. Mubarak’s ouster charged a liberal activist and blogger, Asmaa Mahfouz, 26, with inciting insurrection and insulting the military because of comments criticizing the judiciary and the military that she had posted on Facebook and Twitter.
“At the end of the day, if the judiciary doesn’t get us our rights, no one should be upset if armed groups carry out assassinations, because there is no law and no judiciary,” Ms. Mahfouz wrote online in the passage reportedly cited by the military prosecutors. She has also criticized the military in television interviews for moving too slowly in prosecuting Mr. Mubarak and others from his government.
Ms. Mahfouz, who was charged in a military court and released on bail of about $3,400, could face years in jail. Her prosecution is the latest and strongest step the council of officers has taken in a crackdown on public criticism of the military that has continued even as the council has taken other steps toward democracy and openness, including respecting the freedom to criticize other institutions or even to press charges against the former president.
Mr. Mubarak’s trial, before civilian rather than military authorities, has been occupied by procedural debates. He has been charged with criminal counts of corruption along with his sons, and also with ordering the killing of unarmed protesters challenging his rule. If convicted, he could face the death penalty.
A crowd of lawyers for the families of those killed during the protests that ended his rules bickered and, at times, physically scuffled, forcing court officials to repeatedly hush them. The subject of their debates could not be determined, but the judge ultimately told them to combine their demands into a single written list for his consideration.
Farid el-Deeb, the leader of a team of lawyers representing Mr. Mubarak, requested access to documents from an investigation accusing him and his sons of receiving kickbacks in the form of expensive villas in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheik in exchange for helping an associate win a lucrative land deal. The lawyers also requested that the Egyptian ambulance service turn over records involving the transportation of those who died during the February protests that brought down Mr. Mubarak. And they sought time to review those records.
After a brief recess, the judge said he agreed to a request from lawyers for the families of those killed during the protests to combine Mr. Mubarak’s trial with that of his former interior minister, Habib el-Adly. The two men are accused of conspiring to order the killing of civilians, and so each could provide evidence against the other.
At the first day of the trial this month, Mr. Mubarak’s lawyers asked to hear the testimony of more than 1,000 witnesses. On Monday, the judge announced the names of four police officers who would be called at the trial’s next session. And he revoked a previous pledge that the trial would meet every day until completion, scheduling the next day of hearings for Sept. 5.