Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak appeared in court Monday as advocates for a guilty verdict complained that the state’s case against him was shoddy.
Mr. Mubarak is charged with corruption and with ordering the killing of hundreds who died in the uprising that swept him from power on Feb. 11 this year. Without a thorough and fair investigation of those charges, some worry that a Mubarak conviction would be hollow – and undermine the people’s faith in the justice system at a delicate time of transition.
Lawyer Gamal Eid said that the state should conduct a new investigation and that the prosecutor general should resign.
“This is a very important step in the path of regaining or restoring the trust in the Egyptian judiciary,” says Mr. Eid, who is representing families of 16 of the more than 800 people killed in the uprising.
Trial resumes Sept. 5; no more TV coverage
Nearly 100 lawyers swarmed near the front of the courtroom hours before the hearing began Monday, their shouting matches at times turning to pushing and shoving as they argued over their demands. Judge Ahmed Refaat sharply rebuked them when he took the stand, refusing to continue until they were seated and quiet.
Lawyers representing the family members of some of those who died were pleased that Judge Refaat ruled that Mubarak’s case would be rejoined with that of Egypt’s former Interior Minister, Habib El Adly, who is also charged with killing protesters. The trial will resume Sept. 5.
But Mr. Eid says that the police and prosecution have done a poor job of investigating the crimes and putting together a case, thereby jeopardizing justice. He said that the state prosecutor, who was a part of Mubarak’s regime, must be removed, and the judge should appoint a committee to redo the whole investigation from scratch, he said.
Lawyers have also asked to separate the charges of corruption and the killing of protesters into two separate cases, though the judge has not done so. Mubarak, Mr. El Adly, and El Adly’s deputies are charged with ordering the killing of protesters, while the former president, his two sons, and fugitive businessman Hussein Salem are also charged with corruption.
Refaat also ruled that the live broadcast of the hearings would be banned until the verdict is issued, and his decision was met with applause in the courtroom. While protesters had demanded that the trial be broadcast as proof of transparency, some lawyers now hope that taking away the cameras will tame the chaotic behavior of scores of lawyers representing victims’ families, as some of them have seemed to relish seizing the limelight on national television.
Courtroom calls for Mubarak’s execution
As in his first appearance, Mubarak was wheeled into the cage used for defendants in Egyptian courts Monday on a hospital bed, this time for his second appearance, he arrived with an IV. His two sons, Gamal and Alaa, again stood in front of him, partially blocking him from the cameras.
The stands were mostly filled with journalists, lawyers, and state security conscripts, with many empty seats and few family members of victims allowed to attend. At one point, a woman wearing a brooch with a picture of Mubarak burst into a tirade directed at journalists who were commenting on the color of the former president’s shoes, accusing them of humiliating Mubarak. Those around her were drawn into a shouting match.
As the hearing ended, several family members of victims and lawyers jumped up onto the benches, gesturing toward the cage and shouting “execution!”