Mubarak denies ordering killing of protesters

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has told interrogators he didn't order security forces to open fire on protesters during the 18-day uprising that ousted him.

Newspaper publishes transcript of former Egypt leader's interrogation

An Egyptian traffic policeman gestures as he is watched by bystanders at a traffic line in Cairo on Monday. Nearly 700 officers have been fired in a step to cleanse the force as protesters continue a sit-in at Tahrir Square.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has told interrogators he didn't order security forces to open fire on protesters during the 18-day uprising that ousted him.

He also insists that no one would have listened to him had he ordered a stop to the violence.

Mubarak's comments came in a transcript of his interrogation by prosecutors that was published Thursday by the independent Al-Dustour newspaper.

Judicial officials told The Associated Press that the transcript was authentic. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

Mubarak's defence team couldn't immediately be reached for comment.

He faces trial on charges of ordering the use of deadly force against the demonstrations earlier this year. Nearly 900 protesters were killed.

Meanwhile, Egypt's security chief fired nearly 700 police officers in a step to cleanse the much-hated force, the latest concession military rulers have made under pressure from protesters holding a sit-in in Cairo's Tahrir Square for the past six days.

Widespread abuses by the police under the former regime were a key reason behind the protests that toppled Mubarak.

But the ruling military council that took over from him has been slow to hold ex-regime officials and police accountable for the killing of the 900 protesters during the uprising and other crimes.

'These are just sedatives'

With public frustration rising sharply, protesters resumed a sit-in in Tahrir Square, the epicentre of the revolution that was occupied day and night for most of the uprising. Protesters say the dismissal of 669 police officers was not extensive enough.

"These are just sedatives. We won't be fooled," said Walid Saoud, a 34-year-old protester among the crowd in Tahrir on Wednesday.

He said the sit-in will go on because the protesters want to see a total restructuring of the police force, the main tool of political control under the previous regime.

Some are even accusing the ruling military council of trying to protect Mubarak and his former regime loyalists.

In another nod to demands by activists, the military is delaying parliamentary elections that had been expected in September, the state news agency said. The vote is now expected in October or November, the report said.

Many of the political parties that arose from the uprising want the delay so they can compete more effectively against better prepared and financed Islamist groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood.

Despite the latest string of concessions, protesters appear more determined than ever to press their demands. Many are calling for the dismissal of the current cabinet.

"Tahrir Square is the popular and legitimate monitor of the performance of any institution in Egypt," Saoud said. "As we see it, there has been no change in the police ways."

Move aims 'to bring new blood'

Interior Minister Mansour el-Issawi on Wednesday announced the dismissal of 669 high-ranking police officers including 505 major-generals, 10 of them top assistants to the minister. State TV said 37 of the dismissed officers face charges of killing protesters.

"This is the biggest administrative move ... to bring new blood," to the police force, el-Issawi said. He promised that "any police officer will be held accountable for any violation."

How to deal with Egypt's delegitimized police force, with nearly half a million members, has been a major testing ground for the interim government.

During the early days of the uprising, there were intensely violent clashes when police used force to try to hold back peaceful marches. A few days into the uprising, the police melted away from the streets mysteriously, leaving the streets to waves of looting and theft.

The force has not redeployed in full force since, and some blame police for the rising wave of crime in Egypt in the past months.

Activists say lack of security is the biggest challenge to meeting their demands to overhaul the system, including holding fair and free elections.