Four months have passed since the start of Mubarak’s trial, and the hopes of Egyptians have been fluctuating as they follow the trial. Fears that Mubarak may be set free are rising as the first anniversary of the revolution approaches.
On Wednesday 4 January, Mostafa Soliman the prosecutor resumed presenting the accusations against the defendants – ousted president Mubarak, his two sons, Habib El-Adly and six assistants. Soliman announced that the ministry of interior had refused to cooperate with investigations.
A film was screened in court showing the brutal attacks on protesters. Soliman stressed that the defendants are accused based on the responsibility that came with the positions they occupied in the former regime.
The accusations were greeted with applause from the families of the martyrs and their lawyers, replacing the effect of frustration with the previous day’s proceedings. The public prosecutor had stated that the defendants were not liable for the killing of protesters at police stations, as police had been acting in self-defence. This leaves the potentially liable for only 225 deaths, rather than the total of 846 protesters killed during January uprising.
Khaled Abu Bakr, a civil rights lawyer involved in the trial expected a verdict in the case before 25 January, the anniversary of the revolution.
Human rights lawyer Gamal Eid said he does not expect a just sentence given the direction in which the trial has been moving, describing the prosecutor’s speech as “very poor and rhetorical.” Commenting on Tuesday’s proceedings, he said “I don’t see it going anywhere.”
Almost one year has passed since Mubarak was toppled, the trial did not start until August, and his case has been postponed several times over the past four months.
Five police officers accused of killing protesters in Cairo's Sayeda Zeinab district were acquitted last week with the court describing their actions towards protestors as self-defence. Against this backdrop, the dream of many Egyptians to see the ousted president behind bars seems elusive.
A number of families of martyrs – mostly killed near Al-Arbaeen police station between 25 and 28 January – issued a statement saying they were determined to attack Tora Prison if Mubarak is not sentenced by 25 January 2012.
Bassem Bassiony, brother of visual artist Ahmed Bassiony who died on 28 January, is not optimistic about how the case is going. “There is no change,” he said, “they just keep postponing and postponing.” Bassiony believes that "a high authority is in control of the situation,” including the SCAF who according to him hold "the keys" to the case.
On 24 September the testimonial of head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, was disappointing. In a statement he made shortly after the military council took power, that the military had “refused orders to shoot,” leading to speculation that the ousted president had issued these orders. In his testimony however, he denied receiving any such orders from Mubarak, a disappointment because Tantawi’s testimony was seen by many to be important for Mubarak’s conviction.
Many revolutionaries are frustrated with how the SCAF is running the country since Mubarak stepped down: the number of martyrs is rising, thousands have been injured, and 12,000 civilians are facing military trials.
Mubarak and the other defendants pleaded not guilty when the trial started in August – now it is up to the court to say if they are.