Egypt's military ruler testifies in Mubarak trial

By the Associated Press | September 24, 2011 | 4:50 AM EDT

FILE - In this May 5, 2009, file photo released by the U.S. Department of Defense, Egyptian Minister of Defense Mohamed Hussein Tantawi stands next to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, not seen, during the playing of the U.S. national anthem at the Ministry of Defense in Cairo before reviewing troops. Egypt's military rulers say he will testify in the trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak after failing to attend a previous session. Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi said Friday he decided to testify because of the importance of the case. Such high profile testimonies are rare in Egypt. (AP Photo/DOD, Master Sgt. Jerry Morrison, File) NO SALES

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's military ruler and Hosni Mubarak's former confidant is testifying in the trial of the ousted president charged with complicity in the killings of protesters during the crackdown on Egypt's uprising.

Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi arrived on Saturday morning to the heavily guarded courtroom to give his testimony under a complete media blackout. Such high-profile testimonies are rare in Egypt.

Tantawi, who was defense minister for two decades, could provide critical insight into Mubarak's alleged role in the deaths of nearly 840 protesters as well as insider revelations about the former regime's final days.

Dozens of activists and families of slain protesters are rallying outside the Cairo court, chanting: "Tantawi, tell the truth, is Mubarak a killer or not."