Mubarak’s fate remains shrouded in mystery

Lina El-Wardani , Lina El-Wardani , Monday 15 Aug 2011

The second session in Mubarak's trial sees an organised defence team frustrated and the victims' lawyers create chaos in the courtroom, leading to the postponement of the trial

Mubarak in court
In this video image taken from Egyptian State Television 83-year-old former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak gestures as he lies on a bed within a cage at the court building in Cairo Monday Aug. 15, 2011.(AP Photo/Egyptian State TV)

Egypt’s ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak and his two sons were on view again today behind bars, standing trial for issuing orders to kill unarmed, peaceful protesters during the 25 January peaceful protest against his regime, and illegal profiteering. Dressed in a blue tracksuit, the ousted president arrived at around 10am with his sons Gamal and Alaa in a helicopter. While Mubarak was taken to the court room on a stretcher, his son Alaa tried to keep the Egyptian state TV cameraman from capturing the scene. Once inside, the accused had to wait more than twenty minutes for the session to start. Throughout that time the two sons obstructed the sight of their father lying in the cage.

Unlike the first session of the trial, Mubarak and his sons were not the main centre of attention. Their voices were only heard once when the jugde called out their names, to which they each replied "present."

Chaos in the courtroom meant the session started late. Unlike last time, lawyers were allowed in with only their ID cards, no permits were required. Subsequently over a hundred lawyers were in the court. They argued with one another over who would speak first and who could stand closer to the camera.

The chaos resulted in the start of the session being delayed by nearly two hours from the scheduled 9am. Judge Ahmed Refaat, presiding over the case, kept asking lawyers to sit down and write their demands on paper. He went on to announce that he wanted the court to continue to sit in consecutive sessions, but the conditions meant this wasn’t possible. The judge also exclaimed, “I have a list of over a hundred lawyers, who has the energy to listen to a hundred people?”

Judge Refaat also asked the victims’ lawyers to form a representative body to avoid their demands being repeated. He added that this is “a big case that requires a lot of effort, not protesting.”

The defendants’ team, led by Fareed El-Dib, was, meanwhile, organised with all their demands written and ready. El-Dib loudly stated that his demands from the first session are still valid, but he added that he urgently needs to obtain a copy of the results of all investigations of Mubarak and his sons as well as a copy of any contract concerning the purchase of land and property. He also asked to see a list from ambulances of all the names and dates of those who were killed or injured and transferred to hospitals between 25 and 31 January. His most important demand was that the case be delayed to give him sufficient time to study all the papers thoroughly.

Neither El-Dib nor any of the lawyers on his team agreed to speak to Ahram Online, or any other media. Their only public comment was that they need at least a month to study the case, a demand that the presiding judge did not accede to, even though the trial has been adjourned for three weeks. Also their demand of separating the cases against El-Adly and Mubarak was not met, as the court decided to merge them.

The judge proceeded to go through the evidence, which was mainly presented in the form of DVD discs and flash drives. He said that the court will set a time for all lawyers to convene and watch the evidence.

Lawyers representing those killed during the revolution screamed and fought before the trial started were now quieter and seemed more satisfied. For lawyer Maha Abu Bakr, “the court decision is great; having our demands on paper is much more beneficial.”

Abu Bakr saw no problem with the fact that the judge postponed the case due to the chaos. “This is a case that needs to take its time, and with so many lawyers it is expected to be such a mess. Still, this session is better than the last one and the next session will be better than this one,” added Abu Bakr.

The demands made by the victims’ lawyers can be summed up in three parts. Firstly, that the case against Mubarak of illegal profiteering be separated from that of killing protesters.

The court hears testimony by Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of the ruling military council, on whether or not Mubarak gave the army orders to kill protesters.

And finally, that another member of his inner circle, Omar Soliman, the former vice-president and head of Intelligence, be summoned to testify on the killing of protesters and cutting of communications in Egypt.

According to Abu Bakr, “Soliman said before in the prosecutor-general’s investigations that Mubarak knew of every bullet shot at every protester.”

As in the first session, it was extremely difficult to get a glimpse of Mubarak in the cage as his two sons obstructed the view inside of the ousted dictator in bed behind bars.

Even though the court was disordered, started late and ended in adjournment, the court’s decisions were satisfactory to most in attendance. The subsequent sessions should proceed more smoothly with demands submitted on paper by a team of lawyers. The lack of TV cameras broadcasting the trial could result in fewer people attending and give the lawyers less reason to fight over the better positions.

The case was adjourned to 5 September with the cases against former interior minister Habib El-Adly, and his top officers, and Mubarak merged.

On 3 August 2011, under tremendous public pressure, the Egyptian government put ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak on trial for financial corruption as well as issuing orders to his inferiors to shoot unarmed, peaceful protesters during the 25 January peaceful protest against his regime.

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