Mubarak officials, all defendants accused in revolution's Battle of Camel acquitted
Cairo Criminal Court exonerates all 25 defendants accused of orchestrating last year's 'Battle of the Camel', Wednesday
Ahram Online, Sherif Tarek, Wednesday 10 Oct 2012
All 25 accused defendants in the 2 February, 2011 "Battle of the Camel" attack on Tahrir Square at the outbreak of the Egyptian revolution have been acquitted by Cairo Criminal Court, Wednesday.
A judicial source close to the case told Ahram Online that the prosecution will evaluate the ruling and consider lodging an appeal.
Senior officials in the Hosni Mubarak regime were among those exonerated, including former minister of information and chairman of the Shura Council Safwat El-Sherif, MP of Mubarak's now-defunct National Democratic Party Mohamed Abul-Enein and former parliament speaker Fathi Sorou. The ex-minister of labour power Aisha Abdel-Hadi was also in the dock.
Infamous lawyer Mortada Mansour, who allegedly recorded a speech the night before the battle inciting thugs to attack Tahrir Square, was among the 25 accused.
All of the accused "exuberantly celebrated" upon hearing the verdict.
In a TV interview on Tuesday, Yasser Kamal, one of the lawyers of the defendants, described the evidence submitted by the prosecution as a "legal joke," claiming that there is no proof that any of those accused had participated in killing protesters on that day.
Kamal also labeled the prosecution eyewitnesses as "thugs or people tried on embezzlement charges."
Twenty-one protesters were killed and hundreds injured during the Battle of Camel, when plain-clothed assailants, some on horse and camelback, violently attacked a sit-in on the flashpoint square.
Eyewitnesses said at the time that the armed forces stationed at key points around the square did not intervene to prevent the bloodshed. Snipers were also, reportedly, deployed on the tops of surrounding buildings shooting at the demonstrators.
In July 2012, former member of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces Hassan El-Roweni, who was in charge of securing the square during the revolt, testified that it was not clear who the intruders were.
He claimed that he had called on Muslim Brotherhood leaders in Tahrir to evacuate armed "bearded" men from the roofs of buildings overlooking Tahrir Square, adding that they had followed his instructions.
The defendants' lawyers consequently used this testimony as proof that that the Islamist group was behind the attacks.
The Muslim Brotherhood vehemently denied the accusation.
The overall number of defendants was initially 25 but was reduced to 24 when former NDP MP Abdel-Nasser El-Gabri passed away last year.
Presidential advisor Seif Abdel-Fattah told Al-Ahram’s Arabic news website that the "the presidency is committed to fulfilling the promise it made in re-trying those who were accused of killing protesters during the revolution."
"President Morsi has drawn up a fact-finding committee to look into the cases of killing protesters, and it acquired new information that will prompt it to demand a re-trial for those who were acquitted,” he added.
Meanwhile, in an interview with Al-Ahram, Mohamed El-Beltagi, an official in the Muslim Brotherhood's Freedom and Justice Party, called the verdict "farcical" adding, "all the parties who investigated the incident are to blame."
The exoneration of the defendants is expected to put pressure on President Mohamed Morsi who promised to punish those responsible for the deaths of protesters during last year's 18-day uprising.
The verdict comes two days before mass protests set for Tahrir Square on Friday 12 October which have been called by by 21 secular political groups which will be demanding, among other issues, that those responsible for killing protesters during the January uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak be brought to justice.
Bel Trew and Hatem Maher contributed to this story