Minutes after the commencement of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s retrial in the killings of nearly 900 protesters during the 2011 Egyptian revolution, presiding judge Mustafa Abdullah stepped down from his post and sent the case back to the Court of Appeals.

The unexpected move signals extreme disarray regarding the fate of the former dictator, which caused him, as he was pushed out of the courtroom in a wheelchair, to spread a wide smile across his face, Arab news outlets reported.

The Saudi-owned A-Sharq Al-Awsat, a staunch critic of the Muslim Brotherhood, calls Judge Abdullah’s move an “extreme embarrassment” for Egypt’s ruling party. Mubarak’s defense team had reportedly prepared videos of Muslim Brotherhood involvement in the death of protesters to show the court.

In June 2012, Mubarak along with the former interior minister and six senior members of the Interior Ministry were convicted of the premeditated murder of peaceful protesters and sentenced to life in prison. This past January an appeals court tossed out the conviction due to lack of concrete evidence.

The Doha-based media network Al-Jazeera notes that Mubarak’s demeanor as he entered the courtroom was far different from what it had been during his first trial. When charges were first brought against him nearly two years ago, psychiatrists described him as seeming utterly shocked by the situation unfolding around him. After arriving at the retrial, however, Mubarak “waved from the dock and saluted fans, much as he did when he was in power.”

The London-based daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi speculates that Mubarak is feeling more hopeful about his chances for acquittal as Egypt continues to face political and economic turmoil. Indeed, the movement which has vilified him since his fall from power, the Muslim Brotherhood, is now standing accused of the same crimes for which he was convicted.

“Mubarak has witnessed firsthand the utter inability of President Mohammed Morsi to manage the country’s affairs,” the paper states. According to a judicial source, “Mubarak is happy because he is carrying with him a list of charges against the current president and the Muslim Brotherhood that make them look even worse than him.”

‘Mubarak is happy because he is carrying with him a list of charges against the current president and the Muslim Brotherhood that make them look even worse than him’

Still, not from all Egyptians are amused by Mubarak’s courtroom smirk. The Dubai-based media channel Al-Arabiya reports that immediately after the cancellation of the trial, protesters in the courtroom shouted, “Mubarak must be executed for his crimes.” On Egyptian social media websites, some wrote that “Mubarak’s smile is the most taunting provocation over the past two years” and that “we have not forgotten the corruption and the torture of prisoners.”

Experts on Egyptian law are saying that Mubarak may actually stand a chance of eventually going free, if it is proven that the Muslim Brotherhood has been withholding details of the uprising from the public.

“If we look at the foundations of justice, we will find that very little was applied in Mubarak’s case,” said Mohammed Abdel Dayem of the International Center for Transitional Justice. “Justice has been applied very sporadically.”

Dayem goes on to say that Morsi’s decision to form a fact-finding committee to investigate the violence of the Egyptian revolution may come back to bite him. Speculation is growing that the committee has found it is the state security services who are guilty of committing crimes against Egyptians. Morsi may be reluctant to publish the report because those same security forces are now committing those crimes under his watch as well.

Need a job? Syria is hiring

The American-naturalized prime minister of Syria’s opposition movement, Ghassan Hitto, has issued a statement calling on qualified individuals interested in government service to send him their resumes by Tuesday.

Al-Quds Al-Arabi reports that Hitto, who was appointed prime minister a few weeks ago after a vote by the Syrian National Council, announced that he “has begun the formation of a search committee to find the best talent to build the new Syrian government. We call on all Syrians to get involved to support his mission.”

“In order to build the best team that enjoys full efficiency, I will continue to receive CVs to fill the various government positions beginning with ministerial portfolios down to managerial positions until Tuesday, April 17,” Hito said. 

Candidates, however, must have Syrian nationality, be at least 35 years of age to qualify to be ministers or deputy ministers, and cannot have been affiliated “with the system that committed crimes against the Syrian people, seized the money of the people. Candidates must be advocates of the Syrian revolution and be prepared to work inside Syria.”