Friday,20 October, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1169, (24 - 30 October 2013)
Friday,20 October, 2017
Issue 1169, (24 - 30 October 2013)

Ahram Weekly

Far from view

Mubarak’s retrial resumed behind closed doors, reports Ahmed Morsy

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Al-Ahram Weekly

After three days of closed-door hearings, Cairo Criminal Court decided on Monday to adjourn the retrial of former president Hosni Mubarak, his two sons, former interior minister Habib Al-Adli and six of his aides to 16 November to hear additional testimony from former top security officials.

The 85-year-old ex-president, who was released in August and kept under house arrest at Maadi Military Hospital in southern Cairo, is being retried on charges of being responsible for the killing of peaceful protesters during the early days of the 25 January Revolution and illegally profiteering from his post plus squandering public funds by selling Egyptian natural gas to Israel below market prices.

Mubarak, whose first trial began in August 2011, was sentenced along with Al-Adli to 25 years in jail in June 2012 but the ruling was overturned on grounds of procedural improprieties, with the Court of Cassation, the highest judicial authority in Egypt, ordering a re-trial in January 2013.

On 14 September, Mahmoud Kamel Al-Rashidi imposed a media gag on this week’s proceedings which were held behind closed doors for national security reasons. “Following the completion of the full investigation of the case the court will reveal the content of the witnesses’ testimonies that have been heard in closed sessions,” Al-Rashidi told the state-run Middle East News Agency.

“The court’s keenness to not broadcast the trial was to prevent any witness from being influenced by the testimonies of previous witnesses and to maintain Egyptian national security,” Al-Rashidi added.

During Saturday’s court session, former director of intelligence Mourad Mowafi, who was appointed head of intelligence by Mubarak in early February 2011 following Omar Suleiman, took the stand as did the head of the national security authority General Mustafa Abdel-Nabi who also testified on the same day.

Atef Ebeid, a Mubarak-era prime minister, former interior minister Ahmed Gamaleddin, and current Petroleum Minister Sherif Ismail all testified on Sunday regarding both the killing of protesters charge and selling natural gas at low prices. It took the court seven hours to hear the testimonies of the three witnesses.

On Monday, the court heard the testimony of former Supreme Council of the Armed Forces member Major General Hassan Al-Roweini. At the end of the third session on Monday, Al-Rashidi adjourned the case until 16, 17 and 18 November.

Next month the sessions are also scheduled to be behind closed doors. Moreover, the court called on Mubarak-era prime minister Ahmed Nazif — facing a corruption trial at present — and several former high-ranking Interior Ministry officials in addition to General Hamdi Badeen, former military police chief, to testify in the November hearings.

The South Cairo prosecution also began on Monday the investigation of Mubarak’s doctor who is accused of leaking audio recordings of Mubarak during his treatment at Tora Prison Hospital. The doctor is being charged in absentia. In the recordings, Mubarak believed there was a plot to oust him initiated in 2005 by Washington after he refused to accept any concessions regarding Sinai. The former president was quoted as saying that the US was responsible for spreading the rumour that his son was being groomed to take over the presidency.

“Why would I want my son to be the president? I understand very well that ruling this country is a difficult task and only a military leader can do the job,” Mubarak is reported to have said.

Mubarak added that initially he thought army chief General Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood “until he proved to be a sharp-witted politician”. Al-Sisi, who overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi in July, served as Mubarak’s military intelligence chief.

Egypt’s president since October 1981 also accused supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood of receiving money to hold sit-in protests in Cairo’s Rabaa Al-Adaweya and claimed Sinai has been “ruined” after Morsi randomly released “terrorist” prisoners. He also accused some younger tribesmen in Sinai of aiding jihadists.

“Hamas is behind all of it. They are responsible for the Rafah massacre in August 2012 and they helped Morsi to escape from prison in January 2011 and now they are helping the terrorist groups in Sinai,” Mubarak said.

Mubarak’s re-trial came after the Ismailia Appeals Court charged Morsi and 33 other Brotherhood officials with collaborating with the Palestinian Hamas movement to storm Egyptian prisons during the heyday of the 25 January Revolution and spread havoc. In an earlier session in August, lawyers of Mubarak and other defendants, including Al-Adli, requested judge Al-Rashidi to consider the 24 Ismailia Appeals Court verdict “because we believe that this verdict will be highly beneficial to defendants, clearing them of the charge of inciting violence and killing protesters”.

Al-Adli’s lawyer Mohamed Al-Guindi surprised the court by asking judges to review CDs featuring the forcible dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood sit-ins at Rabaa Al-Adaweya and Nahda Square on 14 August. Al-Guindi said, “The CDs evidently show that security forces refrained from using live ammunition in dispersing sit-ins and that it opened fire only when it was attacked by armed protesters.”

Like Mubarak, Morsi is facing charges of being responsible for killing protesters outside the presidential palace in December. He is scheduled to face trial on 4 November over the deaths of protesters. Prosecutors have charged Morsi, who has been held incommunicado since 3 July, with “inciting his supporters to commit premeditated murder” during the 5 December clashes outside his palace. He will stand trial before a Cairo district court.

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