Cairo courts conduct ‘trials of two regimes’
Mubarak and Brotherhood leaders face charges of incitement to kill protesters
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak (85) is escorted by medical and security personnel into an ambulance to be taken by helicopter ambulance from Maadi Military Hospital to the Cairo Police Academy at the weekend. Photograph: Amr Nabil/AP
It was billed as the “Trial of the Two Regimes”. In one courtroom, at the police academy in New Cairo on the sprawling capital’s eastern outskirts, the case yesterday was against the country’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, who was released from prison last week.
In another Cairo court, the defendants were Mubarak’s bitter foes, the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, pushed from office in a coup last month.
Mubarak was on trial for his involvement in the killings of some 900 protesters during the country’s 18-day revolution in 2011 after an initial guilty verdict was quashed in January for “procedural irregularities”.
Incitement to kill
The most serious accusation against the Muslim Brotherhood’s spiritual leader, Mohammed Badie and 32 others was the same charge: incitement to kill protesters.
The twin judicial processes are a metaphor for where Egypt has arrived under its new military-backed interim government, where the real power resides with the military and the chief of the armed forces Abdel-Fattah al-Sisi. It is a place where the courts – and the judicial process – appear to be as much about politics as law.
In an apparent sign of confidence, the army this weekend relaxed a curfew. Yesterday, a government-appointed legal panel presented the first draft of a proposed constitutional amendment which would scrap last year’s Islamic additions and revive a Mubarak-era voting system.
A spokesman for interim president Adly Mansour said Egypt had undergone difficulties in the past two months, but had reached a “safe area”.
“Those who are still trying to break the Egyptian army will fall alongside the Tatars and Crusaders and all other enemies in the same dustbin,” said Ahmed el-Meslemani.
Yesterday’s hearings came amid a flurry of new cases against activists and political figures. But if there was a lesson from the two inconclusive proceedings, it was who the interim government regards as its main threat, revealed, perhaps, in which defendants were brought to court and which ones were not produced.
At the police academy, a white-clad Mubarak, who left prison on Thursday after judges ordered his release to house arrest, was very much in evidence.
The 85 year old, whose lawyers have claimed was on the verge of death, was delivered to the court by helicopter from the Maadi Military Hospital where he is under house arrest. Flanking him in the dock were former interior minister Habib al-Adly – also convicted for complicity in the killing of protesters – and Mubarak’s two sons, Gamal and Alaa, who are being tried in a separate corruption-related case.
Roads leading to the court were blocked off by security forces over fear of demonstrations against Mubarak’s release which saw the country’s interim prime minister, Hazem el-Beblawi, on Saturday compelled to insist the release of the former president, who ruled Egypt for three decades, was not a return to the old order.
Further raising the stakes, the defendants’ lawyers demanded Gen Sisi, the effective power in Egypt today, be called to testify as he was head of military intelligence at the time of the killings.
Badie, and his deputies, Khairat-al Shater and Rashad Bayoumi, were not in court with judicial sources citing security reasons for their absence.
The hearing comes amid a crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood and arrests of senior figures following weeks of unrest after Morsi’s removal.
Authorities have alleged Morsi supporters are committing acts of terrorism and point to a string of attacks against churches and government buildings. Morsi’s supporters accuse authorities of smearing their movement. Both cases were adjourned. – (Guardian service)