Egypt revolutionaries, political forces voice shock over Mubarak verdict

Ahram Online, Saturday 2 Jun 2012

Mubarak's life sentence is met with joy – which quickly turns to shock when judge announces acquittal of ousted president's two sons and six interior ministry officials accused of killing unarmed protesters

Relatives of people who died during Egypt
Relatives of people who died during Egypt's revolution, react after a court sentenced deposed president Hosni Mubarak to life in prison, outside the police academy where the court is located at in Cairo June 2, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)

The moment the judge announced the life sentence for the deposed president Mubarak on trial, revolutionaries around the country erupted in cheers and claps and gestured the “V” for victory with their fingers. Just minutes later, however, the judge acquitted Mubarak's two sons and the six ministry of interior officials on trial - and that joy was replaced with rage.

In Saturday's historic trial Mubarak faced two separate charges: the first was ordering the killing of protesters. Former minister of interior Habib El-Adly and six of his aides are also charged with the same crime.

Mubarak and his two sons were further charged with taking bribes from fugitive Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem. Even though the judge started by giving Mubarak and El-Adly life sentences, he followed it up by acquitting El-Adly's six aides, including the reviled former head of the state security, Hassan Abel-Rahman, and Cairo's former head of security, Ismael El-Shaer. This left revolutionaries across Egypt in shock.

Shortly after the judge announced the verdict, clashes erupted between protesters and Mubarak supporters, both inside and outside the Police Academy courthouse in northeastern Cairo. In Tahrir Square (Cairo centre) filled up with enraged Egyptians demanding justice for the martyrs and for Mubarak to be executed.

In other cities in the country, the situation was just as intense. In Suez, where the first three martyrs of the revolution died last year, protesters quickly packed the famous Arbaeen Square. Suez local, Tamer Radwan, who lost his brother during the uprising, said that many people feel that they have been duped.

"They lied to us. They told us that this was a real trial, but all this was nothing more than a play and this is the last part of the play," Radwan said.

However, Radwan, who on the first anniversary of the revolution had vowed to take a bus to Tora Prison to seek justice for his brother with his own hands – which he never carried out - vowed that it is not over yet.

"We will have a new revolution and this time we will do it right," Radwan asserted. "We will get justice once and for all."

Khaled Abdel Hameed of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition said that the verdict is farcical. "The verdict is basically a message to the ministry of interior to kill as much as they want and commit the crimes they want and nobody will touch them," Abdel Hameed said. "The ministry, which is the regime’s main tool of repression, will be free. They have basically killed our martyrs again."

Political analyst and former member of the Muslim Brotherhood Ibrahim El-Houdiby says that the verdict did not achieve any justice for the Egyptian people. He says that the acquittal of Hassan Abdel-Raheem and Ismael El-Shaeer shows something is afoot.

"We both know how dirty these two are. We know the crimes they committed. Where is the justice here?" asked El-Houdeiby.

He pointed out that the verdict shows that the judges think that the revolution is only about Mubarak.

"They gave him a life sentence and acquitted the rest. They made it look like the revolution was about Mubarak, and that they will make people happy once Mubarak is gone," explained El-Houdeiby. "They forget that the main demand of the revolution was the removal of the regime - all of it, not just Mubarak."

Political activist Nawara Negm commented that the ruling against Mubarak is a message to dictators that "the more they kill, the more they will win."

Other political forces also commented on the verdict, mostly expressing disappointment and shock.

Former presidential candidate, Abul-Ezz El-Hariri also called for the Mubaraks to be retried, saying that the ruling was "comical." He also criticised that the trial focused mainly on the events of 25 January without looking at anything that they did prior to the 18-day uprising. He also accused the military council of withholding essential documents and evidence from the court and that the lack of evidence was one of the main reasons this verdict was issued.

MP El-Badry Farghaly of the Tagammu Party incredulously asked how the judge can say that Mubarak and his family did not use their powers to gain money and cleared them from all corruption charges.

"And how is it possible that he was acquitted from corruption if he is the one who signed the deal to sell the gas to Israel for his friend, the fugitive Hussein Salem?" El-Farghaly asked, rhetorically.

Fellow MP Sanaa El Said, for the Egyptian Social Democratic Party, said that she did not expect Mubarak's sons to be acquitted, however the verdict on Mubarak was not shocking because of his age.

Activist Gameela Ismael used Twitter to advise all those who were acquitted today to hide because the Egyptian people will not remain silent.

"To those who get an acquittal today for lack of evidence, those that know how many crimes they committed, how many people they tortured, how many they killed before and after the revolution: hide, disappear," Ismael wrote.

The general coordinator of the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate Mohamed Morsi, Ahmed Abdel Atty, described how Egyptians were feeling.

"The verdict for Mubarak and his assistants shocked the Egyptian people, who thought that they would see true justice for those who killed their children," Abdel Atty said.

Atty said that he believes the verdict will affect the upcoming second round of the elections and make people want to vote for someone in the presidential election runoffs who can truly get justice for them.

Prominent activist Asmaa Mahfouz encouraged Egyptians to go and protest in front of the High Court and demand that Prosecutor-General Abdel Megeed Mahmoud be sacked.

"I will go to the High Court now. If you are a man, come with me so that you can protect me and protect your country. We are now just as we were before 25 January," Mahfouz said. "How can the judge not find enough evidence? They were murdering people on TV."

Famous blogger, Hossam El-Hamalawy, who was previously tortured during the Mubarak regime, expressed concern that the acquitted officials may return to their jobs in the interior ministry.

Hamalawy pointed out that "Acquitting all senior police officials, including the head of Mubarak's Gestapo, Hassan Abdel Rahman, means they can go back to their jobs."

Mohamed ElBaradei, the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) also expressed his distaste for the verdict on Twitter stressing that the "the old regime is the judge in its own trial. Continued efforts to abort the revolution in cahoots with established political forces. A critical juncture."

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