The trial of former president Hosni Mubarak will resume on Wednesday after Cairo’s Court of Appeal rejected a motion filed to disqualify Judge Ahmed Refaat and the panel of judges presiding over the case.
The testimony of Sami Anan, Chief of Staff of the Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), scheduled for 24 September, was delayed after the lawyers of revolution martyrs filed a motion accusing Judge Refaat of bias against them.
The martyrs’ lawyers stated that Refaat did not allow them to cross-examine the head of SCAF Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi during his controversial testimony. Tantawi insisted that Mubarak never asked the army to shoot at protesters during the January 25 Revolution, conflicting with his earlier statement that the army did not shoot because it refused Mubarak’s orders to do so.
The lawyers alleged that Refaat favoured Mubarak because the judge’s brother Essam was an active member of the now-defunct National Democratic Party (NDP) and its Policies Committee, led by Gamal Mubarak, son of the former president.
In addition, the martyrs’ lawyers claimed they had documents of earlier rulings issued by Refaat in favour of business tycoon Hussein Salem, who faces multiple charges of money laundering and illegal profiteering along with Alaa and Gamal Mubarak.
Judge Refaat and the judges’ panel sent a memo to the Court of Appeal defending the panel and denying the lawyers’ accusations. The Court of Appeal announced on 22 October that it needed time to examine Refaat’s records, and on 7 December it rejected the motion against him, fining the lawyers who filed the motion LE6,000 ($996).
Gamal Eid, the head of the Arabic Network for Human Righs Information who is one of the martyrs’ lawyers, told Ahram Online that fines for such motions is common practice to guarantee that such measures are not used in the future to further delay the case.
Though Eid believes the court is biased and there is no political will to actually try the accused, he says the case against Mubarak is very weak.
“If I was Mubarak’s lawyer I could prove him innocent,” Eid explained. “How is exporting gas to Israel linked to killing the revolutionaries? These are two different cases put in one which is bad for our case.”
Mubarak is accused of corruption and conspiring to kill nearly 840 unarmed protesters during the revolution that led to his ouster. Six former interior ministry officials face similar charges.
The ousted president, who has been detained in an army hospital outside of Cairo since the trial started last August, is also accused of conspiring with former Minister of Petroleum Sameh Fahmy to export gas to Israel at below-market prices through a company which Hussein Salem was a majority stock-holder.
Eid pointed out other problems the prosecution faced. Besides the accused being called upon as witnesses, the martyrs’ lawyers are not given sufficient time to make their case in court and are campaigned against in the media.
Tantawi was the first of several vital witnesses in Mubarak’s trial after which Anan, former head of intelligence Omar Suleiman, and former ministers of interior Mahmoud Wagdi and Mansour El-Eissawy were supposed to testify.
In this coming session, the judge is likely to set a new date for Anan’s testimony, said Eid.