The first courtroom session of the Battle of the Camel trial was broadcast live yesterday, Sunday morning in Cairo. The second session, today, Monday, will not be broadcasted.
An unequivocally organised group raided Tahrir Square riding camels and horses, attacking the protesters indiscriminately in an attempt to end the demonstrations on 1 - 2 February, 2011. This came to be known as the Battle of the Camel.
The protesters eventually regained control over the square but not before the ferocious confrontation left at least 685 people dead and more than 5,000 injured.
Egyptian state television broadcasted the trial, where for the first time in most Egyptians’ memories, prominent and previously untouchable members of the old regime have started appearing in a defendant’s cage.
Twenty-five businessmen, ex-ministers and high officials are facing trial, but only 22 appeared in court. Some of the untouchables that were present are Safwat El-Sherif, head of the former Shura Council (upper house) and former secretary general of the ex-ruling National Democratic Party, Fathi Sorour, long-time head of parliament and former minister of manpower and migration Aisha Abdel Hadi.
The prosecutor general read out loud the charges statement to the court, which includes premeditated conspiracy to commit murder. The representative described the attacks as “acts of terror” perpetrated against peaceful protesters, elaborating that the accused masterminded the incidents, using their power and money to hire thugs to execute the attacks.
The prosecutor general also pointed out that some of the accused have pretended to oppose the former regime in Egypt only to gain popularity. One of these specimens is Mortada Mansour, who is well-known in Egypt for his striking statements and accusations against public figures.
One of the defendant’s lawyers appealed to the judge with a request to cancel the live transmission of the trial. After a brief suspension the judge released a verdict granting the motion, and the session was suspended until all television equipment is removed from the courtroom.
For the next three consecutive daily session, starting today, Monday, the court will review evidence and documents hidden from the public eye of the camera.