Egypt's military ruler, Field Marshal Mohammed Hussein Tantawi, has failed to attend the trial of Hosni Mubarak at which he was expected to testify on the ousted president's alleged role in the killing of demonstrators, the country's state television has reported.
Tantawi reportedly said he was busy with the security situation, and the judge ordered him to appear on September 24.
Tantawi had been expected to testify behind closed doors, to the anger of many Egyptian reformists, who have been demanding a transparent trial for Mubarak.
He served for 20 years as defense minister in Mubarak's government before he became the head of the ruling military council after Mubarak stepped down in February.
Tantawi's testimony and that of other senior figures is potentially crucial in deciding whether Mubarak is guilty or innocent in connection with the deaths of more than 800 people during the uprising.
The 83-year-old Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for nearly 30 years, has pleaded not guilty.
compiled from agency reports