“This is a political ruling of the first order,” said Amir Salem, prominent human rights lawyer and one of the principal attorneys representing the families of the martyrs, the civil plaintiffs in the Mubarak criminal case on Saturday.
Salem spoke to Ahram Online minutes after Judge Ahmed Rifaat concluded spelling out his ruling in what has been widely described as a "historic" trial, even the "trial of the century", in which ousted president Hosni Mubarak, his long serving interior minister Habib El-Adly and a number of senior police commanders were charged with ordering the murder of over 1000 peaceful protesters in the period 25-29 January 2011, at the outset of Egypt’s January 25 Revolution.
Mubarak, his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, business tycoon and Mubarak crony Hussein Salem were also charged with various corruption and profiteering crimes.
Salem explained that although the court had sentenced both Mubarak and El-Adly to life imprisonment, the ruling had no legal legs to stand on, deliberately so, Salem is convinced. "The judge’s legal justification for his overall ruling practically guarantees Mubarak and El-Adly’s acquittal on appeal" before the Court of Cassation, the highest criminal appeals court in the land.
Salem went on: "In spelling out his ruling, the judge said that there had been no evidence of the crime, neither was there evidence of links or testimonies that show that the crime had been committed."
Salem referred also to the Judge’s contention that "there has been nothing to show who killed or was involved in the killing of the victims."
The Court of Cassation, before which the defence will appeal the rulings against Mubarak and Adly, within 40-60 days, "should immediately order their acquittal," said Salem, adding, "Rifaat handed the justification for their acquittal on a silver plate."
Salem was equally furious at the acquittal of business tycoon Hussein Salem, who is currently in Spain and had failed to appear before the court. "To acquit an escaped defendant is a scandal of massive proportions," he said.
Judge Rifaat also ruled that the corruption charges against the Mubaraks and Salem with regards to the Sharm El-Sheikh villas, which the business tycoon had given the president and his sons as gifts, had to be dropped since they had passed their 10 year statute of limitations.
Commenting, Salem wondered why the Judge had not released Gamal and Alaa Mubarak from the very first day of the trial, since the charge against them was invalid to begin with. For Salem, this was simply yet another piece of evidence of the "political nature" of the trial and its final ruling.
Salem railed against Mubarak’s acquittal on all corruption charges. "This is tantamount to a rehabilitation of the most corrupt ruler who ever reigned over Egypt. According to this ruling, Mubarak did not embezzle state money, nor did not use his position to illegally amass an enormous fortune for him and his family."
As for Mubarak’s "scandalous acquittal" of the charges related to the Israeli natural gas deal, Salem said the ruling gave Israel legal justification to take the matter before international commercial arbitration, and be able to force Egypt to provide the gas at the same prices stipulated in the initial agreement.
The Egyptian government had recently, unilaterally dissolved that agreement, and been seeking its renegotiation, since the price set on Egyptian gas exports to Israel is believed under market prices.