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Court jesters and a media circus for Mubarak case Open in fullscreen

Hossam al-Mahmoud

Court jesters and a media circus for Mubarak case

Supporters of Mubrarak celebrated outside the hospital were the former leader is being treated [Anadolu-Getty]

Date of publication: 30 November, 2014

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Hosni Mubarak's supporters erupted in cheers as the former dictator was acquitted for the killing of protesters in 2011. Outside the court, police could not hide their glee about the result.

Mustafa held his wife’s hand and wept as he walked away from the court. Charges against former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak of killing protesters during the 2011 Egyptian revolution had been dropped and the world’s media was there. "The judiciary is unjust and we did not expect this from you, Sisi," Mustafa told the media.

Mustafa was wounded during the 1973 war, when the Egyptian army bravely took on the Israeli army. He proudly shows his Veterans and War Victims Association membership card to the journalists as proof of his role in this historic battle. “I never thought my comrade in arms, whom I supported and voted for, would do this to me.”

The circus begins 

At 8 o’clock on Saturday morning, security forces escorted Mubarak to a heliport at Maadi Hospital, where the former dictator is being treated. He was then transferred to the Police Academy in eastern Cairo’s upscale Fifth Settlement district, where Mubarak was due in court.

His two sons, Alaa and Gamal follow shortly after, along with former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly. The accused stand in blue prison uniforms, showing the court that they have been convicted of other crimes.

Gamal and Alaa are both serving time for the embezzlement of money earmarked for renovating presidential palaces. Adly was convicted on charges of squandering public funds.

A group of 50 supporters of the ousted president arrive in the court, known in the media as the “Sons of Mubarak”. On the other side of the room stand 15 people, relatives of those martyred or hurt by security forces under Mubarak’s command.

Before the trial began, Mubarak appeared buoyant and optimistic. Some say that it is because his health have improved, but others believe that he had been given assurances from his defence team. Lying on a stretcher, Mubarak laughed, smiled and chatted with the other defendants.

No one is allowed inside the courtroom without an official permit from the court, usually issued to the press. For reasons unknown, today Mubarak’s supporters had packed the courtroom, apart from a few civil claimants who sat silent and in low spirits. Theatre directorTamer Abdul Moneim, the son-in-law of Mubarak’s lawyer Farid al-Deeb, was in the court, along with former Ahli Football Club player Mustafa Younes. They were both here to show their support for the former president.

     For reasons unknown, today Mubarak’s supporters had packed the courtroom.

Into the limelight

The court was opened by Judge Rashidi, who is known for his love of being in the media limelight and showing off his "skill" for public speaking. Today, he told the court and journalists about his life and how he is not afraid of death. In a previous session, Rashidi presented a television report explaining the efforts exerted by himself and his colleagues working on the trial. He not only thanked the representatives of the prosecution but did so with the honorary title "Bey".

Courting the media

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a plaintiff said: "When announcing the verdict, Judge Rashidi intentionally resorted to the element of suspense by delaying the verdict on crime number 3642, where Mubarak is accused of killing protesters and selling Egypt’s natural gas. Instead, he announced the verdict on the other two charges."

"He unusually delayed the first verdict until the end of the session. This constitutes a new method of handling a court ruling, the reasons for which are incomprehensible from a legal standpoint."

When the showboat judge announced the acquittal of Mubarak at 11am, applause and cheering erupted in the courtroom, while the accused all congratulated each other. Mubarak was moved to the point of tears. Adly also wept, while Gamal kissed his father’s forehead.

Even though Alaa, Gamal and Adly remained behind bars in the court room, Mubarak’s supporters entered the dock to take pictures and selfies with them. Adly’s associates made statements for the Egyptian television channel Sada al-Balad, which was exclusively covering the trial.

An hour later and Mubarak was interviewed by Sada al-Balad’s Ahmed Moussa by telephone, the channel known for having close links with Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

     A chant came out from the group: "down with military rule, down with Sisi".

Mohammed Saleh, an activist with the Justice and Freedom movement said that Mubarak chose to give the exclusive interview to Ahmed Mousa, who is a vocal supporter of Sisi.

"Today’s scenes were designed by Gamal and Alaa. It seems that the law only applies to Sisi’s opponents, not his associates. Sisi, Mubarak, and their men are inseparable."

A carnival outside court

A scrum of security forces and journalists gathered outside gate number 8 of the Police Academy. Security included armoured police vehicles, cavalry units, and officers in plain clothes were there to watch out on around 100 members of the public outside the court, most of the crowd made up of Mubarak supporters, or relatives of slain protesters.

During the trial, some of Mubarak’s supporters raised his portrait, while others waves pictures of Sisi. They chanted for the acquittal of the accused, while some tried to fight with the families of the martyrs.

A man injured during the protests that overthrew Mubarak held a white shroud at the supporters of Sisis, indicating his willingness to die. Parents of those murdered by security forces raised images of their children, and demanded retaliation for their deaths.

A huddle of activists, reporters and security officers outside a van grows, as they listen to the proceedings inside the courtroom on the radio. Once the verdict of "not guilty" was announced, the families of the martyrs screamed. Some of them even fainted. Others wept. A chant came out from the group: "down with military rule, down with Sisi".

They said they would continue their hunt for justice and appeal against the decision, while others say Sisi was responsible for the verdict.

Othman al-Hifnawi, one of the civil claimants, has nothing to say about the verdict, only that he cannot logically explain what has happened.

Close by, a gang of Mubarak’s supporters play on drums and celebrate, while a few pray to thank God for his acquittal. They then moved to the Maadi Hospital for celebratory refreshments and rejoice with Mubarak.

Security officers, both uniform and in plain clothes, were similarly joyful. In a discussion between Mubarak’s supporters and police officers, attended by an al-Araby al-Jadeed’s correspondent, a colonel said, "Today is a special day for the police. From now on, no one will dare come near us, and those who do will get killed, and we will be acquitted."

An impersonator of assassinated Egyptian president Anwar Sadat is also outside the court, complete with a pipe and robe. Police officers who can’t hide their happiness gather round the man, to have their pictures taken with him.

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