Q&A: A guide to Mubarak's legal status

Ayat Al Tawy , Sunday 30 Nov 2014

What does the dismissal of murder case against toppled president Hosni Mubarak mean? Ahram Online presents a helpful list of questions and answers

Mubarak 2
Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, 86, lies on a gurney, next to his son Gamal, second left, in the defendants cage, during a court hearing in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, Nov. 29, 2014. (Photo:AP)

An Egyptian court on Saturday dropped its case against former president Hosni Mubarak over the murder of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his 30-year rule and also cleared him on other graft charges.

There has been widespread confusion over the possible release of the ex-leader given that he is already serving a jail term in a separate case.

The following is a list of helpful questions and answers that spells out the legal status of Mubarak.

Q: Was Mubarak acquitted of complicity in killing of protesters during the 2011 revolt?

A: The court said the case against him is inadmissible, citing a technicality.

The court said the public prosecution issued an "implied decision that there were no grounds to bring criminal proceedings against him" back in March 2011 by not including him among the defendants. Mubarak was only included as a co-defendant in the case, along with his interior minister Habib Al-Adly and top security aides, two months later.

As that "tacit decision" was not overturned by the public prosecutor within a legal three months' time, it thus amounts to a mandatory, non-reversed criminal sentence, criminal law professor Mahmoud Kebeish said.

"Legally, the case cannot be considered. It is like giving an acquittal to a defendant in a case and then referring them to trial," Kebeish said.

Minister Al-Adly and four commanders, however, had been acquitted on charges of the killings of some of the roughly 850 demonstrators during the revolt. 

Q: Can the sentence be appealed

It can be appealed in Egypt's Court of Cassation, the country's highest criminal court and legal authority.

In case the verdict is overturned, the case will be heard by the Court of Cassation, and not referred to a criminal court, as was the case when a retrial began in April 2013

Q: What are the cases Mubarak is being tried in and the sentences he has received?

A: 1. Complicity in the murder of protesters during the 2011 uprising.

Status: charges dropped

2. Abuse of power and profiteering (receiving villas in a Red Sea resort from exiled businessman Hussein Salem).

Status: cleared over a statute of limitations, that is, the time during which the case should have been brought has expired (in this case, 10 years under Egypt's criminal law)

The court said the villas were officially obtained in October 2000, meaning that the case expired in October 2010.

3. Graft charges related to gas exports to Israel at below-market rates.

Status: cleared, as no evidence was found that the defendant helped squander public funds in the export agreement, and that export prices were proven to be in line with the real market rates.

4. Presidential palace case (embezzling public funds allocated annually for upkeep of presidential palaces)

Status: convicted, received three-year sentence in May 2014.

Investigations are underway on two other corruption cases that have yet to reach court.

Q: Will he be allowed to walk free?

Mubarak is serving a three-year sentence from May 2014 for corruption charges related to embezzling millions of public funds allocated to the renovation of presidential palaces.

He began his pre-trial detention in April 2011, which continued until August 2013, when he was transferred to house arrest. Lawyers and law professors have been confused over the exact period he has spent in jail.

His lawyer, Farid El-Deeb, told Ahram online that the decision to allow his client to walk free lies with the prosecution, without elaborating further.

Criminal law professors say under Egypt's criminal proceedings law, the pre-trial detention time is regarded as time served and will be deducted from the sentence given to the defendant.

If he is not immediately released, another chance will be provided on 13 January, when an appeal hearing on the three-year corruption sentence is scheduled. In case the appeal is accepted, which law experts say is highly likely, a retrial will be ordered and Mubarak will be released.

Additional reporting by El-Sayed Gamal El-Deen

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