Issue No.1210, 21 August, 2014      20-08-2014 09:00PM ET

Mubarak’s final appeals

Former president Hosni Mubarak denies ordering the killing of protesters in 2011 and is appealing a May ruling that convicted him of embezzling state funds. Gamal Essam El-Din reports

Mubarak’s final appeals
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Deposed president Hosni Mubarak, 86, made a last-ditch appeal, addressing the court in his own defence on 13 August. Mubarak, his interior minister Habib Al-Adli, and six of Al-Adli assistants face charges of complicity in the killing of peaceful protesters in January 2011. Mubarak, his two sons Alaa and Gamal, and businessman Hussein Salem, also face charges of corruption and abuse of power. A judgement is expected on 27 September.

In his 26-minute speech, Mubarak, like his former interior minister, claimed his overthrow was the result of a foreign conspiracy, since when he has been subject to three-year campaign of defamation. “As this could be my last speech before my life ends I would like to tell the citizens of my county to be careful of the conspiracies being plotted against you,” said the once all-powerful autocrat.

Mubarak continued: “I asked the armed forces to take to the streets to maintain security on 28 January [2011] after police forces failed to stand up to the conspirators who aimed to lead a coup against the state and drive a wedge between the people and army. At this point, to prevent Egypt from stumbling into further chaos, I opted to leave office and entrust the armed forces with leading the country to the shores of stability.”

Unlike Al-Adli, Mubarak did not name the US or the CIA as the conspirators plotting with the Muslim Brotherhood to rid Egypt of the Mubarak regime. Instead, he claimed, “My national conscience obliged me to re-read the events we have faced since 2011 after I discovered the positions of those who conspired to undermine Egypt and are still trying their best to achieve this goal inside and outside the country.”

He concluded by saying: “Hosni Mubarak, appearing before you today, would never order the killing of protesters or shed a drop of Egyptian blood. I spent my life defending my country. I would never order the killing of a single Egyptian under any circumstances, seek chaos to be spread or cause a security vacuum.”

On the final day of the trial, Judge Mahmoud Kamel Al-Rashidi allowed Al-Adli to take the floor for a second time. On 9 August Al-Adli accused the CIA of conspiring against the Mubarak regime. His testimony continued in the same vein. “From 2005 onwards America was heavily involved in funding the 6 April Movement and conspiring with the Muslim Brotherhood to implement its Middle East project. The aim was to divide Egypt into small states. The role of the 6 April Movement was to mobilise protests, and it was decided the Muslim Brotherhood would sweep parliamentary polls to reach power.”

Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal, refused to take the stand. Gamal submitted a memorandum in which he denied that he was being groomed to inherit power from his father.

“My role under my father’s rule was confined to exercising my duties as a leading official of the National Democratic Party (NDP) to push the democratisation process forward,” claimed the memorandum. “Public statements made by both my father and by me clearly show we never tried to implement an inheritance project.”

The later stages of Mubarak’s trial have been aired live by private television channels owned by two NDP business tycoons. The former president’s legal ordeal began in August, 2011. Almost a year later he and Al-Adli were found guilty of failing to halt the killing of peaceful protesters and sentenced to life imprisonment. In January 2013 the conviction was overturned on appeal and a retrial ordered.

“Mubarak, like the prosecution, has the right to file a second — and final ­— appeal against whatever judgment is delivered on 27 September,” said Mahmoud Kibiesh, head of Cairo University’s Faculty of Law. “If accepted, the appeal will be heard by the Court of Cassation which will then deliver a final judgment.”

Mubarak, according to Kibiesh, tried hard to make his 13 August speech “as emotional as possible.”

“Analysing the speech, 85 per cent appeared addressed to the Egyptian people, 15 per cent to the army and just five per cent to the court,” Kibiesh said. “Mubarak appeared to be seeking a pardon from the public rather than addressing the charges he is facing in court.”

But whatever the content of Mubarak’s speech, the judges will focus mainly on the testimonies and documents prevented as evidence during the case, he added. “While most of the witness testimonies favoured Mubarak, with those in the witness box saying they never heard him give an order for protesters to be killed, documents submitted by the prosecution show Mubarak had a clear hand in orchestrating the manslaughter in Tahrir Square.”

On 16 August the court released two witness statements. In the first, Hamdi Bidien, chief of military police in January 2011, said that while his forces were active around Tahrir Square and in downtown Cairo on 28 January, he never saw police shooting protesters. “I could never imagine Mubarak ordering the killing of protesters and we never received orders to do so,” said Bidien.

In the second statement, Hassan Al-Rouni, head of Central Military Command in Cairo during the 2011 uprising, quoted Hussein Tantawi, head of the post-Mubarak ruling Supreme Council of Armed Forces (SCAF), saying that “the 25 January uprising was an American conspiracy to divide Egypt into small states — as is the case now in Iraq and Syria — and the Muslim Brotherhood was exploited by America to implement this project.”

It is a mistake, argues Al-Ahram political analyst Hassan Abu Taleb, for the media and public to politicise Mubarak’s trial. “Our response to the verdict should not be determined by our political affiliations. If Mubarak is acquitted, we shouldn’t see this as a result of pressure exerted by the new regime in Egypt; and if Mubarak is convicted, we shouldn’t assume this is a victory for the 25 January Revolution.

“The trial should be viewed as a purely criminal procedure rather than one that will determine whether the events of 25 January were a revolution or a conspiracy.”

That said, Abu Taleb believes Gamal Mubarak’s claims that neither he nor his father were pursuing a father-son succession scenario are laughable.

“The plans were real, and they incited millions to revolt against Mubarak and his family,” says Abu Taleb.

Muslim Brotherhood lawyers described the final sessions of the trial as a political farce.

“Now that we have all seen how judges permitted Mubarak and the other defendants to use every trick in the book to defend themselves I wonder if Muslim Brotherhood leaders currently facing trials will be allowed the same leeway?” asked Brotherhood lawyer Mohamed Touson.

On 17 August Mubarak’s lawyer, Farid Al-Deeb, filed an appeal against the May ruling in a separate case that saw Mubarak and his sons sentencing to three years in jail after they were found guilty of embezzling LE125 million earmarked for the renovation of presidential palaces.

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