Cairo court orders retrial of ousted president Mubarak

Mon, Jan 14, 2013, 00:00

A Cairo court yesterday ordered the retrial of ousted president Hosni Mubarak, sentenced to 25 years in prison last June for failing to halt violence against protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his 30-year reign.

The ruling read out by judge Ahmad Ali Abdel-Rahman also validated the appeal of former security chief Habib El-Adly, who was tried jointly with Mr Mubarak.

Neither defendant will be released, as they are being held on other charges. Mr Mubarak (84), confined to a military hospital after cracking ribs in a fall, is under investigation for corruption.

On Saturday, a 15-day detention order was issued on the basis of allegations that he had received improper gifts worth $1 million from the state-owned daily, Al-Ahram.

No grounds were given for the appeal court’s decision, but similar charges brought against six senior aides of Mr Adly were dismissed and it is reported that procedural problems had been found in the conduct of the hearings.

In an interview aired by state media, Mr Mubarak’s lawyer, Farid El-Dib, said ordering a new trial for the same crimes would be inadmissible due to double jeopardy.

He and other defence lawyers argued that Mr Mubarak and Mr Adly did not know the scope of the street protests that erupted across Egypt or of the vicious crackdown on protesters that killed 846 people and injured at least 5,000 during the 18-day uprising that culminated in Mr Mubarak’s resignation.

However, at the time the lawyers defending Mr Mubarak and Mr Adly lodged the appeal, human rights activist Hussam Bahgat contended that evidence had been withheld from prosecution, which had received no state support in preparing the case.

Following the success of the appeal, Mr Bahgat said that if the court sends the case back to the prosecutors, new evidence could be introduced. But if the court does not adhere to this procedure, the retrial would proceed on the basis of the slender and faulty evidence presented in the original trial and another acquittal could result.

In addition to evidence suppressed during the first trial, prosecutors could present material showing that Mr Mubarak knew exactly what was happening during the protests as he was watching events unfold via a live-feed and receiving constant intelligence. This evidence is included in a partially leaked report of a fact-finding mission handed to President Mohamed Morsi earlier this month.