Toppled president Hosni Mubarak is set to appear behind bars along with both of his sons, Alaa and Gamal, in the second session of his trial on Monday, 14 August, which takes place separate to those of other defendants accused of being involved in the killing of peaceful protesters in the January 25 Revolution.
Like many other former regime oligarchs, Mubarak is accused of abusing his powers throughout his 30-year rule to accumulate an illegal fortune. More significantly, he is accused of instigating the murder of demonstrators during the 18-day revolt against his regime in January, an accusation that could see him handed the death penalty.
In the opening session on 3 August, Mubarak was put in the cage while lying on a stretcher after medical examinations proved he was healthy enough to stand trial. Many has speculated that he would not show in court and that “deteriorating health” would be cited as a reason. All defendants were in the dock with him except for Hussein Salem, who is under house arrest in Spain and being tried in absentia.
Mubarak was originally set to be tried separately from the rest of the defendants indicted on the same charge, including his ex-minister of interior, Habib El-Adly, but both cases on the killing of protesters were merged a few days ahead of the opening session of the trial.
The two trials have been once again separated, upon the request of Mubarak’s lead defence attorney, Fareed El-Dib. Until the court decides on the matter, the former commander-in-chief and his sons will be tried independently.
The other defendants accused of killing demonstrators include El-Adly, who is already sentenced to 17 years in prison after being convicted on corruption charges, as well as six of his assistants. They all appeared before the judge Sunday and their cases were adjourned to 5 September.
Mubarak is currently detained at the International Medical Centre on Ismailiya Road. His condition is understood to be stable; it has cast no doubts on whether or not he will show Monday.
No major developments expected
The second session of Mubarak’s trial is not expected to witness any major developments as lawyers representing the martyrs’ families are yet to fully examine the evidence, which mainly consists of four rifles, bullet casings, some of the casualties’ bloodstained clothes, videos and other documentary evidence.
Furthermore, Ahram Online has learned that presiding Judge Ahmed Refaat has not yet summoned de facto ruler Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi to testify.
Tantawi, former Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman, who acted as vice president in Mubarak’s last days in power, and Chief-of-Staff Sami Anan were called up by lawyers representing the martyrs’ families to give their testimonies. Tantawi has reportedly agreed to appear in court.
“Calling a witness is one of the judge’s legitimate rights as long as he believes that this witness is important,” a legal expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Ahram Online’s Arabic edition.
“This rule applies to civilians and the military alike. However, if a witness from the latter (the military) is still in service, the judge should contact the military judiciary that in turn would call the witness, but that didn’t happen [here].”
Tantawi confirmed shortly after the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) assumed power that the army had rejected “orders to fire on civilians,” a statement that was repeated later by other SCAF members on several occasions.
On the other hand, Suleiman reportedly said the deposed commander-in-chief “had complete knowledge of every bullet fired at protesters, and the number of those killed or wounded.” His words are further testimony that bolster the case against Mubarak, but only circumstantially, as media statements are not recognised by the prosecution or the court.
In questioning that followed the opening session, according to the AFP, Mubarak accused Tantawi of being responsible for the decision made during the uprising to cut all communication services. The claim, which was perceived to be a sign of despair, was categorically denied by SCAF and was expected to further incite Tantawi to testify against his former superior.
Qualms over lawyers’ competence still rampant
In the opening session of Mubarak’s trial, the lawyers representing the martyrs’ families seemed to lack organisation and coordination, especially in comparison with the El-Dib-led defence team.
Lawyer Hamed Seddik was among those who left an unpleasant impression after staggeringly trying to convince Judge Ahmed Fahmi Refaat that the ousted president had died in 2004 and the defendant is actually “another man” who has since been impersonating the real Mubarak.
“The families of the martyrs are numerous and each of them hired a host of lawyers; some of them are from different institutions and rights groups and have different mentalities and goals too,” lawyer Sayed Fathi told Ahram Online.
Some of the lawyers representing the martyrs’ families said it is a matter of time until they all work as a team, saying that by the next session they will be more organised and effective.
However, the same lawyers’ disorganisation was apparent during Sunday’s trial of El-Adly and others, which angered Judge Refaat on several occasions and prompted him to halt proceedings repeatedly. No change is expected in this respect either when the Mubarak trial resumes Monday.