Egyp­tian Judges dis­miss charges against Mubarak

Pakistan Observer - - FRONT PAGE -

An Egyp­tian court on Satur­day re­moved all re­main­ing charges against for­mer Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak, rais­ing the pos­si­bil­ity that Mr. Mubarak could go free for the first time since he was re­moved from of­fice in the 2011 up­ris­ing that de­fined the Arab Spring.

An Egyp­tian court has dropped its case against for­mer Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak over the killing of pro­test­ers in the 2011 up­ris­ing that ended his 30year rule and sym­bol­ized hopes for a new era of po­lit­i­cal open­ness and ac­count­abil­ity.

Mubarak, 86, was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for con­spir­ing to mur­der 239 demon­stra­tors, sow­ing chaos and cre­at­ing a se­cu­rity vac­uum dur­ing the 18-day re­volt, but an ap­peals court or­dered a re­trial.

His sup­port­ers erupted into cel­e­bra­tion when the ver­dicts of that re­trial - which also cleared Mubarak’s for­mer in­te­rior min­is­ter Habib al-Adly and six aides - were read out. The de­fen­dants had de­nied the charges.

Sup­port­ers out­side court, car­ry­ing pic­tures of the ex-air force of­fi­cer who dom­i­nated the most pop­u­lous Arab na­tion for three decades, far out­num­bered fam­i­lies of pro­test­ers who died in the Tahrir Square re­volt that had em­bod­ied the hopes of Arab Spring up­ris­ings that spread through the re­gion.

The judge said crim­i­nal charges should never have been brought against Mubarak in the case. The decision can be ap­pealed, how­ever, and the for­mer leader was not freed as he is serv­ing a three-year jail term in a sep­a­rate em­bez­zle­ment case.

Many Egyp­tians who lived through Mubarak’s rule view it as a pe­riod of au­toc­racy and crony cap­i­tal­ism him be­hind bars. His over­throw led to Egypt’s first free elec­tion but the win­ner, Mo­hamed Mursi, was ousted last year by then-army chief Ab­delfat­tah alSisi, fol­low­ing protests against his rule. Sisi, who went on to win a pres­i­den­tial elec­tion in May, launched a crack­down on Mursi and his Mus­lim Brother­hood. Au­thor­i­ties have jailed thou­sands of Brother­hood sup­port­ers and sentenced hun­dreds to death in mass tri­als that drew in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism. By con­trast, Mubarak-era fig­ures are slowly be­ing cleared of charges and a se­ries of laws cur­tail­ing po­lit­i­cal free­doms have raised fears among ac­tivists that the old lead­er­ship was re­gain­ing in­flu­ence. Satur­day’s ver­dict was seen as the lat­est sign by ac­tivists the rights won

in 2011 were be­ing eroded.

“This is a po­lit­i­cal ver­dict. The ju­di­ciary has been pro­cras­ti­nat­ing for four years so they could clear him after hope had been lost,” the fa­ther of Ahmed Khaleefa, 19, who was killed in 2011, told Reuters out­side the court.

“The ver­dict hit us like bul­lets. I con­sider that my son Ahmed died to­day.”

A few dozen young peo­ple gath­ered to protest the ver­dict in the city of Suez, site of the first death of the up­ris­ing, but they were quickly dis­persed by po­lice, se­cu­rity sources said.

Hun­dreds of peo­ple died when se­cu­rity forces clashed with pro­test­ers in the weeks be­fore Mubarak was forced from power.

Oth­man al-Hef­nawy, a lawyer rep­re­sent­ing some fam­i­lies of pro­test­ers who died, said the ver­dict left open the ques­tion: if Mubarak, his in­te­rior min­is­ter and their se­cu­rity aides were not re­spon­si­ble for the deaths of 239 pro­test­ers, then who was?

The court also cleared Mubarak and a for­mer oil min­is­ter of graft charges re­lated to gas ex­ports to Is­rael.

In a sep­a­rate cor­rup­tion case, charges were dropped against Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Ga­mal, with Judge Mah­moud Kamel al-Rashidi say­ing too much time had elapsed since the al­leged crime took place for the court to rule.

State tele­vi­sion showed Ga­mal and Alaa kiss­ing their fa­ther’s fore­head after the rul­ing. Ga­mal also hugged for­mer in­te­rior min­is­ter Adly, who ap­peared to be in tears. Mubarak’s sons and Adly will also re­main in jail serv­ing other sen­tences. The rise of Sisi, a ca­reer of­fi­cer, to the pres­i­dency, means voices more sym­pa­thetic to Mubarak and the mil­i­tary have since been heard.

In Au­gust, Mubarak used rare court tes­ti­mony beamed live into mil­lions of homes to protest his in­no­cence, say­ing he would go to his grave with a clear conscience and his­tory would vin­di­cate him.

“We were con­fi­dent of his in­no­cence re­gard­less of the crit­i­cism he faced and the ef­forts to tar­nish his rep­u­ta­tion,” said Nahla al-Hawy, a Mubarak sup­porter out­side the court.

Mubarak will re­main in an army hos­pi­tal, where he is serv­ing the three-year em­bez­zle­ment sen­tence handed down in May.—Reuters

and con­sid­ered it a vic­tory to see

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