Ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, have spent their first night of 15 days in custody on allegations of financial and political corruption. Mubarak was held at a military hospital and his two sons in Tora Prison.
As they woke this morning, away from the pleasant Red Sea view of their residence in Sharm El-Sheikh, the Mubaraks are facing three possible scenarios regarding their fate, according to a legal source familiar with their case.
The first scenario is that the Mubaraks — or at least the Mubarak’s sons — would be referred to a criminal court within or by the end of the 15 days. “Usually when the prosecutor decides to keep someone for 15 days in custody for investigation it means that there is strong evidence that would require referral of the case to the criminal court,” the legal source said.
“Yes, you could well learn that the former president and his two sons are taken to criminal court to defend themselves against the charges,” both of financial corruption and abuse of power, and instigating the killing of peaceful demonstrators in Tahrir Square, the source added. “It would be then up to the judge to decide whether the evidence presented by the prosecution is compelling enough to issue a guilty verdict with legal punishment, or not.”
Usually, the legal source added, in cases with so much detail, like that of the Mubaraks, it takes long time for the judge to decide, and “given the public pressure on the whole legal system one should expect a long process if the president and his sons are referred to the criminal court.”
In any event, if the Mubaraks are proven guilty it is within the discretion of the judge to offer the old and ailing president an exemption from imprisonment on health grounds, by which he could serve whatever term he is sentenced to in a prison hospital or be sent home and kept under house arrest.
It could be up to the next president to decide or not to offer Mubarak such an exception on health grounds. Mubarak himself issued a similar order for political opponent Ayman Nour. The former president had also used a similar legal prerogative to spare journalist Ibrahim Issa from prison after he was convicted of slander against Mubarak.
The second scenario is for the prosecutor to decide that more investigations are required with one or two or the three of the Mubaraks, thus extending the custody period for another 15 days. “It is important to note that while they face similar charges, each stands as an independent case,” the legal source noted.
The third scenario — and this is what the lawyers of the Mubaraks are frantically working on — is to provide counter evidence that would prove that the Mubaraks, all or any of them, are not in the wrong and that there are no grounds to keep them in police custody. Should this be the case then the Mubaraks, all or any of them, could be released from custody to go back under house arrest, or if there is considerable defence evidence, to be just released and be on call for further investigation if needed.
The legal source declined to predict which of the three scenarios would be realised. “This is a very tough case to predict; everybody is under immense public and political pressure — the prosecution, the judges and the lawyers,” he said.
He added that the details of the cases against the Mubaraks are being kept under the tight grip of Mubarak lawyer Farid El-Dib, who is not sharing information even with some of his closest aides. El-Dib, he added, gives assignments to some of his aides but reveals no information: “None whatsoever”. “It is a very sensitive case,” the legal source stated.