A verdict in the trial of ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak will be delivered on June 2. Mubarak’s trial has turned out to be more “political theater” as Al Jazeera notes, rather than the hoped-for historic moment when the deposed ruler would be brought to justice for the abuses and corruption that were rife during his 30 years in power. The trial began in August and has proceeded in fits and starts, with a “short investigation period, brief hearings, a three-month hiatus, incomplete testimonies and a speedy ending.” Lawyers also say that the prosecution has presented a week case, delivering “sermons rather than hard evidence.”
Mubarak is not being tried for crimes committed during his three decades as Egypt’s president but on charges of ordering security forces to fire on protesters during the 18-day revolution last year, during which some 850 were killed and thousands injured. He is also being tried on charges of corruption as are his sons, Alaa and Gamal. Mubarak declined the chance to address the court though his interior minister Habib al-Adly — who, along with six security chiefs, is charged with ordering troops to fire on demonstrators — spoke for an hour and a half.
Mubarak, Adly and the security chiefs could all face the death penalty.
Trial of Americans on Sunday
One year after the revolution, Egypt’s transition government seems to be “determined to shoot itself in both feet” as New York Times columnist Tom Friedman writes. 43 people, including at least 16 U.S. citizens one of whom is Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s son, Sam LaHood, will be put on trial on Sunday, on charges of bringing unregistered funds into Egypt to promote democracy without a license. Besides the Americans, 14 Egyptians, 3 Serbs, 2 Lebanese, 2 Germans, a Palestinian, a Jordanian and a Norwegian will be put on trial.
The prosecution is relying largely on the testimony of the thirteen accusers:
The prosecution’s dossier also shows leaps of logic in a case that hasimperiled a decades-old alliance with Washington and threatened Egyptwith the loss of $1.5 billion in aid. The case, for example, cites documents seized in December from one group, the International Republican Institute, that included Wikipedia maps of Egypt showing the country divided into four parts. While Egypt is typically described as comprising four regions — upper and lower Egypt, greater Cairo and the Suez Canal and Sinai region — the prosecution suggested that the maps showed a plan to dismember the country.
A holdover from the Mubarak era, Fayza Abul Naga, the minister of planning and international cooperation, is described as the “primary force” behind the prosecution. The prosecution’s dossier accuses the groups of working “in coordination with the C.I.A.,” serving “U.S. and Israeli interests” and fomenting “religious tensions between Muslims and Copts,” all with the intention of “bringing down the ruling regime in Egypt, no matter what it is” and “pandering to the U.S. Congress, Jewish lobbyists and American public opinion.”
The impending trial has severely endangered relations between Egypt and the U.S., which currently gives $1.3 billion in aid to Egypt’s army. The leaders of the Islamist Freedom and Justice Party, who hold a majority in Egypt’s recently elected Parliament, have said that, should the aide be withheld, they will review Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel “in retaliation.”
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Photo of mural of those who died in the Port Said massacre by Gigi Ibrahim