Egypt's 'pharaoh' wins his day in court

Egypt's 'pharaoh' wins his day in court
Perhaps a sign of the changing times in Egypt, the acquittal of former president Hosni Mubarak for the murder of protesters during his rule was met by cheers in the Egyptian court room.
3 min read
29 November, 2014
Mubarak supports often make an ostentatious display of their loyalty [AFP-Getty]

It has been nearly 1,300 days since former Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, was hauled in front of court for crimes during his rule.

Sitting in a caged dock during proceedings, along with his close aides and two sons, Gamal and Alaa, Mubrarak looked resigned to pay the price for the massacre of protestors by security forces in 2011.

Over 100 trial sessions, 25 of these taking place behind closed doors, the case of the former Egyptian strongman became known in the media as "the trial of the century".

For the relatives of those killed, today came as a heartbreaking anticlimax when an Egyptian court dismissed murder charges against Mubarak regarding the deaths of protesters.

Mubarak was also cleared of an additional corruption charge.

Historic claims

The trial began when complaints against Mubarak were filed to the former attorney general, Abdel-Meguid Mahmoud, at the start of the Egyptian revolution.

The plaintiffs accused Mubarak on two counts - of killing demonstrators and corruption - but unsurprisingly, seeing as the man was still president, the attorney general refused to press an investigation into the allegations.

When Mubarak fell from power on 11 February 2011, pressure built from the public to put Mubarak and key regime figures on trial. A million Egyptians took to the streets to demand the arrest of the former dictator.

With pressure building, the attorney general ceded and issued an arrest warrant against Mubarak and his sons on 11 April 2011. The very same evening, they were arrested in the resort city of Sharm El Sheikh.

Two days later, the attorney general made the decision to detain Mubarak for 15 days of questioning, along with his sons and former aides.

Strongman brought down

24 May 2011 was a historic day for Egypt. Mubarak and the other defendants were finally referred to a court on the charges of complicity to kill demonstrators, corruption, and the intentional plundering of public funds.

The first trial against Mubarak began on 3 August that year. Over the course of around 50 sessions, testimonies were given by senior military and security officials including former defence minister, Mohamed Hussein Tanta and Omar Suleiman, former chief of intelligence.

Not suprisingly, these testimonies from the military men were generally favourable of the accused.

Despite this, on 2 June 2012 Mubarak was found guilty and given a life sentence. An appeal was granted and the court ordered the retrial of the defendants.

The first retrial for Mubarak began on 11 May 2013. On 14 August 2014, the court gave itself 43 days to deliberate on the evidence. This was brought forward to 29 November due to health conditions of the judge.

When the verdict was read out in favour of the fallen president today, cheers errupted in court from supporters, while his Mubarak's two sons kissed their father on the forehead.

Lying in an upright stretcher and still behind court bars, Mubarak will stay in jail to finish off a three year sentence for a separate graft case. But being cleared of having blood on his hands by the court was enough to make the former dictator reveal a grin.

This article is an edited translation from our Arabic edition.