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Egypt judge drops murder charges against Mubarak, acquits on illicit gains

Failure to convict ousted president Mubarak, sons and police chiefs have been criticised by some rights analysts and political figures

Ahram Online , Saturday 29 Nov 2014
Mubarak
In this file photo taken Wednesday, May 21, 2014, ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sits in the defendants cage behind protective glass during a court hearing as he listens to his son Gamal, left, in Cairo, Egypt (Photo: AP)
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A Cairo criminal court dropped charges Saturday against former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak for responsibility in the killing of protesters in the January 2011 uprising. 

The judge said he would drop the murder case against Mubarak because the prosecution's earlier decision on 23 March 2011 to charge the 86-year-old lacked the legal basis to bring a criminal case against the ousted president.

The judge also ruled that the statute of limitations had expired on the charges against Mubarak, his two sons and businessman Hussein Salem on charges of profiteering from illegal gifts of villas. 

In addition, Mubarak was acquitted of charges of collaborating with his minister of petroleum to profit from Hussein Salem's company by giving Salem the rights to export Egyptian natural gas to Israel at below market rates.

Salem was also acquitted of the charges.

Former Interior Minister Habib El-Adly along with his six aides were acquitted of charges of murder and attempted murder related to the killing of protesters in January 2011.

Mubarak and El-Adly were initially found guilty in June 2012 of responsibility for the killing of protesters and sentenced to life imprisonment. The initial verdict was appealed successfully and a retrial began in April 2013. Alaa and Gamal were defendants in the trial, but only faced corruption charges.

Despite being acquitted on Saturday, Mubarak and his two sons are still facing separate three-year prison terms for embezzlement of public funds.

The prosecution has said that it would appeal the verdict.

The 86-year-old former president who ruled for 30 years has spent much of his detention at a military hospital on the southern outskirts of Cairo.

El-Adly will also remain jailed. He was convicted on separate corruption charges, for which he now serves a seven-year jail sentence.

Salem was tried in absentia.

Verdict hailed by some

Dozens of Mubarak supporters hailed the verdict, waving pictures of the former president outside the courtroom where the verdict was issued, while the defence camp was jubilant.   

El-Adly's lawyer, Essam El-Battawy, told CBC satellite channel that although his client will remain in prison on other charges he is optimistic he will soon be found completely innocent.

El-Adly has only one case ongoing and it is being appealed, his lawyer said. The remaining case, known in the Egyptian media as the "licence plates case," involves a government contract awarded to a German company to provide licence plates for vehicles at inflated prices.

El-Adly was acquitted of other corruption charges in previous cases, and was acquitted Saturday of responsibility for the killing of protesters in 2011, explained El-Battawy.

Speaking to Egyptian radio from Spain after the verdict was business tycoon Hussein Salem, who was acquitted of corruption in the Saturday verdict. Salem, who has been abroad since the 2011 uprising, said he would return as soon as possible.

"Tahya misr (long live Egypt)!" he said during his interview, repeating the patriotic slogan that is often deployed by supporters of the military.

Talking to Ahram Online, the deputy head of the Conference Party, Salah Hasaballah, defended the verdict, saying that Mubarak had given a lot to Egypt during his presidency.

Regardless of what the verdict had been, Hasaballah said that “Egyptians are more concerned with the political future of their country than with the past."

“After two revolutions and after a new elected president, our priorities are to focus on how to build the new Egypt.”  

The Conference Party was founded last year by Mubarak-era foreign minister Amr Moussa.

Political backlash unlikely

Political analyst Mohamed El-Agaty of the Arab Forum for Alternatives think-tank told Ahram Online that he expects that the political backlash to the verdict to be small and to pass quickly.

El-Agaty argued that the state and media have been propagating a state of "panic" that will not allow for any mobilisation against the verdict.

Similarly, April 6 Youth Movement member Zizo Abdo also believes that the media has had an effect on public attitudes to the case making it unlikely people will object.

“I don’t believe that Egyptians will react against the verdict after the media has spent more than three years making propaganda against the revolution…saying it serves foreign agendas," he told Ahram Online, adding that he believed security forces would not allow people to mobilise against the verdict anyway. 

He added that the "revolutionary movement" in Egypt is not strong enough at present to mobilise a reaction to the verdict.

“In light of the oppression of the security forces on any protests or political movements, I will not rely at this phase on the revolutionary movements [for protesting the verdict]; especially as security forces are supported by a majority of Egyptians,” said Abdo.  

Security forces reportedly closed off Tahrir Square on Saturday afternoon, in anticipation of possible protests. Demonstrations are outlawed in Egypt, unless prior permission has been given by the interior ministry.

Trial, legal system citicised

Political analyst El-Agaty further argued that the case's verdict was to a large extent expected because of the legal elements of the case.

"It was also clear from the start that this case will go nowhere…there are no proper laws to fight corruption…you can’t put them [former regime figures] on trial using their own laws," he stated, adding that the legislation currently used to try figures from the former regime were mostly instated by them.   

Head of the liberal Constitution Party, Hala Shukrallah, told Ahram Online that the problem is to a large extent the legal system, which lacks the right legislation to try cases involving corruption and mass killings.

"We (political parties) need to focus on changing the laws," she said.                      

Local rights watchdog the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) labelled the verdict “disappointing” and said it would "further entrench impunity for gross human rights violations committed by security forces, yet again absolved of responsibility for killing, injuring and torturing protesters."

In a statement released Saturday the rights body criticised the trial process, citing a failure by judicial authorities to address “deep flaws in the original trial.”

“Initial proceedings were marred by shortcomings ranging from the public prosecution's inadequate investigations, to the court's disregard of victims' lawyers motions to consider new evidence, to the judges' decision to ignore over a thousand witness accounts and audiovisual and other material evidence demonstrating police involvement in the killings," the statement read.

EIPR also echoed concerns about the way the Egyptian justice system handles such cases, stating that the acquittals “expose deep flaws in the Egyptian Code of Criminal Procedures entrusting evidence-gathering to police even in cases of alleged police abuse, allowing them to tamper with the evidence or withhold it to escape accountability.”

“Without having independent bodies investigating cases of police brutality, justice cannot be achieved," it added.

The statement drew a contrast between Saturday’s verdicts with the guilty verdicts handed down in the “Matay” case, when 37 defendants were sentenced to death and 491 to life in prison on charges of killing a single police officer in August 2013. According to EIPR, the judge in that case argued that criminal intent to kill any member of the police forces and the defendant’s presence at the crime scene was sufficient evidence to convict the defendants of murder or attempted murder. 

Return of the old regime?

In addition to legal barriers that prevent such political figures from being convicted, Shukrallah said that she believes politically Egypt "is going back to how things were before the January 25 revolution." 

"The old political order is being reinstated…even the figures of the old regime are resurfacing," she said.

Lawyer Amir Salem also argued that the verdict was a political statement, described the sentence as one that "acquits the former regime as a whole."

He told Ahram Online that the presiding judge's argument in the case was that he could not hold either Mubarak or El-Adly accountable for killing protesters after all the police officers under their command had been earlier found innocent and policemen have been systematically released since the January 2011 revolution.

"This verdict washes the hands of the former regime completely," he said.

Amr Darrag, a former minister in Mohamed Morsi’s government and a leading Muslim Brotherhood figure also stressed that the verdict was a political one, writing on Twitter in Arabic that "no real trial can take place under the current circumstances. A real trial can only be achieved when the people's will prevails and they reclaim the revolution."  

Hosni Mubarak was removed from power following the 2011 revolution. During the first 18 days of protests, around 840 protesters were killed and more than 6,000 injured.

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13



Tahya masr
30-11-2014 05:58pm
2364-
174+
Terrorist grasping at straws
It's amazing. The Ikhwani terrorists are looking for anything to hold on to. Mubarak has been detained for 3 years. This trial is about ordering the murder of protesters. Without seeing all the evidence is pretty clear he did not. Millions of protesters on the streets the death toll would have been much higher. We have bigger problems than the Mubarak verdict. We are still dealing with the terrorist infestation that infested Sinia in the black year of Ikhwani rule. God help Elsisi and the army and Egyptians defeat the Ikhwani terrorist and thier military wing isis
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Momoyay
30-11-2014 10:11pm
15-
227+
Momoyay
what about the 30 years of corruption ? just ignore them?!?
Erhal!
30-11-2014 07:27pm
92-
735+
Pro-Mubarak terrorists are tiresome and support murder
Nope, what is amazing is that the Mubarak/NDP supporting terrorists (who also support Wahabis and ISIS) who are on record as murdering nearly 1,000 Egyptians in 2011, actually fail to grasp why it is so bad is the mass murderer, arch-thief Mubarak is not held to account for his crimes. Pro-Mubarakists are terrorists, not the democratic forces who led the 2011 revolution. Mubarak is a terrorist backed by Saudi and UAE terrorists.
12



noris
30-11-2014 05:09pm
492-
2+
Imagined the pattern of Egyptian thiking
we have no rosy future though we studied at university = Mubarak is wrong! He must go! WE still have no freedom and right in politics! =SCAF is wrong. They must go! We suffer from electric cut, running short of gas = Mursi is wrong! He must go! We still suffer from bad economy. Why? = the 2011 revolution was wrong, therefore, Mubarak is right! and the killed participants were wrong, they paid the price! I imagined that the pattern of Egyptian thinking is like that.... Too simple...
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11



ayman
30-11-2014 06:25am
2-
416+
Pointless
A continuation of the legal battle. The final verdict is the next one. Shocking though to see that a president can walk free after squandering our natural gas reserves and consider it as his political prerogative. Most of our gas was either burnt to generate subsidized electricity, the worst use for it, or sold for a fraction of its price!
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10



Albert
29-11-2014 11:56pm
254-
6+
Hood hiding under rocks
If you want to know which hood coakroaches are hiding under rocks look no further than here with all posts with over 66 'NO LIKE' qualifying.
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The NDP will remain banned
30-11-2014 03:52pm
34-
51+
Mubarak lovers = ISIS and are terrorists who love murder and theft
If you want to see various non-Egyptians supporting 30+ years of terroristic murder, theft, proven, corruption, and torture from Mubarak and co, look at the posts praising the voting trolls/bots. Condoning Khaled Said's death is disgusting and shames anyone who does it. Those who support the death of the January 25 martyrs are terrorists. Real heroes venerate them. ISIS lovers love Mubarak and his successor regime. Only a fringe group of Egyptians view Mubarak positively. The overwhelming, rational majority supported his deposition and detests the criminal man.
9



Albert
29-11-2014 07:22pm
23-
247+
Justice
Mubarak after all gave us thirty years of peace. Who can argue that that's worth nothing ? Compare this with Morsi and his hood terrorists who after just a few months gave us terror and Isis ? We should be proud that contrary to the french, the russians and the iranian mullahs if they could, we did not engage into cruel and bloody revenge against gone head of states.
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Momoyay
30-11-2014 02:02am
17-
11+
What?!?!
What about the 30 years of neglect? Egypt is one of the dirtiest and least developed country in the world so can we thank for this ?Mubarak destroyed Egypt and despite the "court" finding Mubarak put the country into a $20 Billion dollar oil debt that Egypt is struggling to pay. Dont be so blind , this is not justice
8



agnabi
29-11-2014 06:59pm
120-
22+
Expected has come!
When Morsi was expelled, I expected that. Why such anger and surprise? "They" had good happy days in Mubarak Era. Anyway, in universal standard, it is very strange to see there is NO ONE to hold responsibility of more than 800 people in Tahrir. Was that just a nightmare? If "he" didn't order to kill demonstrators, he must have known what was happening in Tahrir, so he was the very person to give an order to stop it.What is the meaning of "Justice" and "Human Rights"? hahahaha! I feel so depressed and can't sleep...
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7



Asiya
29-11-2014 05:14pm
107-
19+
No Justice
In Egypt there is no justice in the courts. The innocent are charged and the real criminals have special privilages and go free. The judges are corrupt so they do not judge with justice. The media make everything into a drama and twists the truth too. The foundations of the country are corrupted. Time for change!
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6



Khaled
29-11-2014 03:56pm
126-
23+
Mubarak is a terrorist; the NDP is a terrorist org
Mubarak is a murderous terrorist who is guilty of shedding much Egyptian blood. The court sympathizes with terrorists, as do those who oppose the 2011 revolution. The decision if foolish and a disgusting attempt to dance on the graves of those who died in the revolution.
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5



MoYay
29-11-2014 03:43pm
74-
23+
WHAT?!?!
HOW IS HE CLEARED OF ANY CORRUPTION CHARGES ?!??!?!
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4



Egyptian
29-11-2014 11:51am
317-
43+
no justice
There is no such thing as justice in an Egyptian court. The judges themselves are just as corrupt as the criminals that they judge. No surprise...Egypt and those who pull the strings in Egypt are corrupted.
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