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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

See the album, Mubarak verdict in pictures
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The former dictator's supporters erupted in cheers inside the courtroom when the judge acquitted Mubarak. Outside, police could hardly hide their glee.

Mustafa held his wife's hand and wept as he walked from the court. Charges against the former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak of killing protesters during the 2011 revolution had just been dropped and the world’s media was there.

"The judiciary is unjust and we did not expect this from you Sisi," Mustafa, a relative of one those 2011 victims, told reporters, addressing Abdel Fatah al-Sisi, the Egyptian president, who ousted the former president, Mohammad Morsi in a coup in 2013.

     A chant arose from the group: "Down with military rule, down with Sisi".

Mustafa was wounded during the 1973 war with Israel. He proudly shows his Veterans and War Victims Association membership card to the journalists as proof  "I never thought my comrade-in-arms, who I supported and voted for, would do this to me.”

The circus begins 

At 8am on Saturday, a helicopter transferred Mubarak from Maadi hospital, where he is being treated, to his court session at the Police Academy in Cairo’s eastern Fifth Settlement district.

His two sons, Alaa and Gamal followed shortly after, along with Mubarak's former interior minister Habib al-Adly. The accused stood in blue prison uniforms, showing the court they had 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 toppled president, known as the "Sons of Mubarak", also arrived in court. On the other side of the room stood 15 people, relatives of those killed or injured by police during Mubarak's presidency.

Before the trial began, Mubarak appeared buoyant and optimistic. Lying on a stretcher, he laughed, smiled and chatted with his co-defendants. Some believed he had been given assurances from his defence team.

No one is allowed inside the courtroom without an official permit. For reasons unknown, Mubarak’s supporters were packed inside. Among them was theatre director Tamer Abdul Moneim, the son-in-law of Mubarak’s lawyer Farid al-Deeb and the former Ahli FC player Mustafa Younes.

Courting the media

The court was opened by judge Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi, who is known for his love of the media limelight as a chance to show off his public speaking. He told the court and journalists about his life and how he was not afraid of death. In a previous session, Rashidi presented a television report explaining his efforts working on the trial. He not only thanked the representatives of the prosecution but did so with the honorary title "Bey" [?].

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one plaintiff described the scene thus: "When announcing the verdict, 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 first pronounced verdict on the other two charges."

"This constitutes a new method of handling a court ruling, the reasons for which are incomprehensible from a legal standpoint."

When the judge finally announced the acquittal of Mubarak at 11am, applause and cheering erupted in the courtroom, while the accused 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. Adly’s associates made statements to the television channel Sada al-Balad, which was exclusively covering the trial.

Egyptians protest Mubarak's acquittal (Anadolu)

An hour later and Mubarak was interviewed by Sada al-Balad’s Ahmed Moussa by telephone.

Mohammed Saleh, an activist with the Muslim Brotherhood-linked Freedom and Justice 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 had long gathered outside gate number 8 of the Police Academy. Security included armoured police vehicles, cavalry, and officers in plain clothes. About 100 members of the public, mostly Mubarak supporters, were also there.

During the trial, some of Mubarak’s supporters raised his portrait, while others waved pictures of Sisi. Some even tried to fight with the families of the victims.

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

Once the not guilty verdict was announced, the families of the dead screamed, wept and fainted. A chant arose from the group: "Down with military rule, down with Sisi".

They said they would continue their search for justice and appeal against the decision. Some blamed Sisi for the verdict.

Othman al-Hifnawi, one of the civil claimants against Mubarak, said there was no logic to the acquittal.

Close by, however, Mubarak’s supporters beat drums and celebrated. Others prayed to God in gratitude. They then moved to the Maadi Hospital to celebrate .

Security officers were similarly happy. Many gathered around a man impersonating the assassinated Egyptian president, Anwar Sadat, to have their pictures taken.

One colonel told al-Araby al-Jadeed: "Today is a special day for the police. From now on, no one will dare come near us. Those who do will get killed, and we will be acquitted."

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