Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, charged with the killing of protesters and abuse of power, was wheeled into court on a hospital trolley yesterday as his trial resumed after a delay of almost two months while lawyers demanded a new judge.
Many Egyptians hope the trial will heal some of the scars of his autocratic rule and help the country find stability after nearly a year of political turmoil under the military generals who replaced him in power.
But the multitude of witnesses and the complexity of the charges mean the case could drag on for months, perhaps years.
Mr Mubarak, his two sons, the former interior minister and senior police officers face charges ranging from corruption to involvement in the deaths of hundreds of protesters in the uprising that unseated him.
"The court has responded to all the defendants' lawyers requests," said lawyer Khaled Abu Bakr, who represents families of people who died in the uprising.
"Egypt has guaranteed for Mubarak a very fair trial, the judge has ensured that all the basics of justice are there ... no one should object to the final verdict"
Previous sessions were marred by clashes outside the Cairo court building between Mubarak supporters and Egyptians demanding the death penalty for him, but there were no scuffles when Mr Mubarak, who is being held under guard at a military hospital near Cairo because doctors say he has a heart condition, arrived yesterday.
Around 850 people were killed in the 18-day uprising that overthrew him, with the police accused of shooting live rounds at unarmed demonstrators. Much of the trial centres on who gave the order to fire.
The case has gripped the Middle East and the sight in August of Mr Mubarak, the man who ruled the Arab world's most populous nation for three decades, appearing behind bars in a Cairo courtroom on charges that could bring the death penalty was one of the defining moments of the Arab Spring.
Later that month the presiding judge Ahmed Refaat ordered television cameras out of the courtroom until the case concludes, ensuring key testimony by top officials takes place beyond public view.
Lawyers for families of the dead filed a suit in September calling for Refaat and the two other judges to be replaced.
They had complained that the judges had failed to give them enough time to question Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, who heads the ruling military council, during his court appearance.
Their request was rejected.