Brotherhood and Mubarak: Two former regimes in court this month
Egypt's criminal courts highlight turbulent past two years as lagging trials for Mubarak-era officials coincide with fresh charges against ousted Brotherhood regime
Reem Gehad, Monday 12 Aug 2013
On 3 August 2011, Egyptians watched ousted president Hosni Mubarak wheeled on a stretcher into a courtroom defendant's cage, to be brought to justice on live TV.
However, as the trial dragged on for months, many lost hope that it would hold the former autocrat accountable for years of corruption and authoritarian rule. This pessimism deepened when Mubarak won a retrial after receiving an initial life sentence.
Two years later, Egypt is witnessing a surge in major trials. Not only will some key members of Mubarak's regime stand trial, but Muslim Brotherhood figures will as well.
This is especially striking, considering that the Brotherhood were long-time opponents of Mubarak's rule and were responsible for propelling Mohamed Morsi, Egypt's first democratically-elected leader, to the presidency in June 2012.
One year later, Morsi has been shunned by the people, deposed by the army and now – along with several Brotherhood members – faces charges in court.
The Brotherhood and the Islamists
On 25 August, Cairo's criminal court will begin the trial of six Brotherhood leaders – most notably Supreme Guide Mohamed Badie and his deputy Khairat El-Shater – on charges of inciting the murder of protesters at the Brotherhood's headquarters in the Cairo district of Moqattam.
At least eight were killed in clashes outside the headquarters on 28 June after it was stormed and ransacked by angry protesters.
El-Shater has been detained since 6 July, while an arrest warrant was issued on 28 July for Badie.
Also facing trial for the Brotherhood headquarters clashes are leading members Mostafa El-Beshlawi, Mohamed El-Beshlawi, Atef El-Semari and Mohamed Rashad Bayoumi.
On 21 August, a Cairo criminal court will look into a request filed by general-prosecutor Hesham Barakat to freeze the funds of 14 Brotherhood and Islamist figures. Among the 14 figures are Badie, El-Shater, Brotherhood secretary-general Ezzat Ibrahim, senior member Mohamed El-Beltagy, Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party leader Saad El-Katatni and its vice-chairman Essam El-Erian.
The group also includes Islamist preacher Safwat Hegazy and Islamist Wasat Party vice-chairman Essam Sultan. On 14 July, the assets were temporarily frozen as part of the investigation into the violent clash between security forces and Morsi supporters outside the Republican Guard headquarters which left at least 51 people dead. However, a court order is required to finalise the decision.
On 20 August, prominent Salafist figure and former presidential hopeful Hazem Salah Abu Ismail will stand trial on charges of forging his mother's nationality during the 2012 presidential elections.
Abu Ismail was detained on 18 July following investigations that revealed he had misled the presidential election committee by claiming that his mother held only an Egyptian passport. Under Egypt's election rules, the candidate's parents must be Egyptian and not acquire citizenship from another country.
Abu Ismail was disqualified from the presidential race after reports circulated that his mother held a US passport.
As for the former president, a top Egyptian judge ordered the detention of Morsi for 15 days on 26 July pending investigations into charges of espionage and jailbreak.
On Monday, the detention order was renewed for another 15 days. Although a trial date has not been set, the ousted president is accused of collaborating with Hamas to orchestrate his escape from Wadi Al-Natroun prison and to destroy police records during the 2011 uprising, in addition to charges of espionage. He is also charged with attacking police stations and with the intentional killing and abduction of police officers and prisoners during the uprising.
Four of Morsi's presidential aides were also slammed with a 15-day detention in early August on charges of involvement in December's clashes at the Ittihadiya presidential palace that left at least five dead and hundreds injured.
Since Morsi's ouster on 3 July, the former president have been held incommunicado at an unknown location.
Mubarak, aides trials ongoing
Meanwhile, on 14 August a Cairo criminal court will hold a second session in the retrial of former interior minister Habib El-Adly's corruption case.
El-Adly was convicted of money laundering and profiteering in May 2012, receiving a 12-year prison sentence. However, the Court of Cassation overturned the conviction and ordered a retrial in March 2013.
On 17 August, the criminal court will resume Mubarak's retrial, where he faces charges of complicity in the killing of over 800 protesters in the January 2011 uprising. Habib El-Adly, Mubarak's two sons Alaa and Gamal, and six other top security aides were also charged in the controversial case.
In June 2012, Mubarak and El-Adly were sentenced to life in prison for the killings, but in January 2013 a retrial was ordered due to "procedural failings" in the original trial. The six security officers were all acquitted.
The criminal court will also examine two additional cases, one related to financial corruption and the other to exporting gas to Israel at below-market prices.
On 19 August, the criminal court will commence the trial of Mubarak and his two sons in the illegal seizure of state funds, where they face charges of using funds allocated for expenditure on presidential palaces for their private villas.