Egypt re­vives case against Mubarak

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Laura King laura.king@la­times.com

CAIRO — Egypt’s high­est ap­peals court on Thurs­day re­vived charges against for­mer Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak in con­nec­tion with hun­dreds of pro­tester deaths that came as his au­to­cratic rule was drawing to a close more than four years ago.

If the case ad­vances, it would be Mubarak’s third trial on th­ese charges. The for­mer leader had been con­victed and sen­tenced to life in pri­son for fail­ing to halt the pro­tester killings by se­cu­rity forces, but a crim­i­nal court over­turned that con­vic­tion in Novem­ber, seem­ingly bring­ing the case to a con­clu­sion.

The pros­e­cu­tor had the right un­der law, how­ever, to seek per­mis­sion from the Court of Cas­sa­tion to try the case again. That was granted in Thurs­day’s rul­ing, though the court up­held the dis­missal of charges against seven code­fen­dants.

There can be no ap­peal of the out­come of the new trial, which is to begin in Novem­ber.

The tor­tu­ous legal pro­ceed­ings against the for­mer leader ref lect the po­lit­i­cal tur­moil that has gripped Egypt since Mubarak’s ouster in 2011. Af­ter three decades of Mubarak’s dic­ta­to­rial rule, Egyp­tians ini­tially clam­ored to see him brought to jus­tice.

Hu­man rights groups hold the cur­rent Egyptian gov­ern­ment re­spon­si­ble for the deaths of far more un­armed demon­stra­tors than those who died in the wan­ing days of Mubarak’s rule. But the more re­cent killings — part of a crack­down on the Mus­lim Brotherhood, the move­ment of for­mer Pres­i­dent Mo­hamed Morsi — have been cast as part of a wider re­gional fight against Is­lamist mil­i­tants, even though the Brotherhood has al­ways pro­claimed it­self to be com­mit­ted to non­vi­o­lence.

Mubarak, 87, who has been con­fined to a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal for much of the time since his ouster, has also faced charges as­so­ci­ated with graft and cor­rup­tion that carry pri­son terms and fines. But the mur­der-re­lated charges, stem­ming from au­thor­i­ties’ vi­o­lent at­tempts to quell the mass up­ris­ing against him, were the most se­ri­ous.

Court pro­ceed­ings, with the once all-pow­er­ful Mubarak caged in the de­fen­dant’s dock while ly­ing on a gur­ney, at first riv­eted the coun­try, but the nov­elty faded as the legal case dragged on and new tu­mult erupted.

Egypt’s post-revo­lu­tion era has seen dra­matic po­lit­i­cal re­ver­sals of for­tune. Some as­so­ciates of Mubarak who fell from fa­vor with his ouster have moved to reat­tain po­si­tions of power, and more hope to do so when long-de­layed par­lia­men­tary elec­tions take place.

The coun­try’s first freely elected pres­i­dent, the de­posed Is­lamist Morsi, is im­pris­oned and fac­ing a plethora of crim­i­nal charges. A court has al­ready handed down a pre­lim­i­nary death ver­dict in one of the cases, and that sen­tence is due to be af­firmed or re­jected by the court this month.

Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah Sisi, who as de­fense min­is­ter over­threw Morsi in a pop­u­larly sup­ported coup in 2013, has faced some in­ter­na­tional pres­sure to carry out re­forms af­ter a harsh and wide-rang­ing crack­down on po­lit­i­cal op­po­nents in­clud­ing the Mus­lim Brotherhood. But ad­mo­ni­tions from key for­eign gov­ern­ments have been rel­a­tively mild as Sisi has cast him­self as a cru­cial bul­wark against the Is­lamist mil­i­tancy that has surged across the re­gion.

On an of­fi­cial visit by Sisi to Ger­many this week, the for­mer mil­i­tary chief faced ques­tions about hu­man rights con­di­tions but largely brushed them aside.

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has ex­pressed dis­may over ju­di­cial prac­tices such as mass tri­bunals re­sult­ing in hun­dreds of si­mul­ta­ne­ous death sen­tences. But it has largely ac­ceded to Egyptian de­mands for con­tin­ued mil­iary aid.

Lobna Tarek El Shorouk

SUP­PORT­ERS de­cry a rul­ing paving the way for a re­trial of ousted Egyptian Pres­i­dent Hosni Mubarak.

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