Egyptian court delays Mubarak verdict to November

Egyptian court delays Mubarak verdict to November

Former Egyptian president says his conscience is clean ahead of ruling on killings of protesters in 2011

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is wheeled out of an ambulance outside the Maadi military hospital in Cairo on September 27, 2014, before boarding a helicopter that transported him to court. (photo credit: AFP/Khaled Desouki)
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak is wheeled out of an ambulance outside the Maadi military hospital in Cairo on September 27, 2014, before boarding a helicopter that transported him to court. (photo credit: AFP/Khaled Desouki)

CAIRO, Egypt — An Egyptian court has postponed its ruling until November 29 in the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak, charged with complicity in the killings of protesters during the 2011 revolt that ousted him.

A helicopter had ferried the 86-year-old Mubarak from a military hospital to the courtroom Saturday for the session.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for three decades and whose 2011 overthrow unleashed almost four years of tumult, is accused alongside seven of his former police commanders of involvement in the killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that toppled him. An appeals court overturned his initial life sentence on a technicality.

The 86-year-old was flown by helicopter to the court at a police academy on the outskirts of Cairo, after he was wheeled on a stretcher from a military hospital in the capital, an AFP correspondent and the police said.

The same court will also deliver its verdict on corruption charges leveled against Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal.

The court will pronounce their fates in a different climate from the heady days that followed Mubarak’s overthrow, which at the time seemed like a defeat of autocracy.

Mubarak’s successor, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi, was himself overthrown by the military and imprisoned along with thousands of Islamists amid a widespread campaign tarring the 2011 uprising itself as a sinister plot to weaken Egypt, a faded regional power.

Morsi is now on trial with other Islamists over acts of violence committed during the anti-Mubarak uprising.

Youth leaders who spearheaded the anti-Mubarak revolt have been jailed for staging unauthorized protests after the June 2013 ouster of the divisive Morsi by army chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.

Sissi, who won May’s presidential election, has emphasized law and order at the expense of freedom to protest, a popular stance among Egyptians fed up with the chaos and economic ruin of their experiment with democracy.

The police force, which Mubarak is accused of ordering to quell the 2011 uprising, is now feted in the largely pro-government media as it wages a deadly crackdown on pro-Morsi Islamist protesters and militants.

One newspaper editor, Ibrahim Eissa, a major dissident under Mubarak, testified at the retrial that it was perhaps foreign saboteurs and not police who were responsible for deadly violence during the uprising.

Mubarak’s former interior minister and co-defendant Habib al-Adli, who had also been sentenced to life, accused Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood and Palestinian militants of attacking protesters during the uprising to besmirch the police.

Mubarak — separately sentenced to three years in prison for corruption — told the court that at the age of 86 he was approaching the end of his life “with a good conscience.”

“The Hosni Mubarak before you would never have ordered the killings of protesters,” he said in August in a lengthy speech that vaunted economic achievements many Egyptians now remember with nostalgia.

Most witnesses — senior military and police officials who served under Mubarak — testified on camera in the retrial that began in May 2013.

Their accounts were reportedly favorable to Mubarak.

Victims of the anti-Mubarak uprising fear the changing political tide might rob them of justice on Saturday.

“Now there is a wave of defamation against the revolution and the youths who led it,” said Osama al-Meghazi. On January 28, 2011, after protesters in the Mediterranean city of Alexandria left a mosque, police opened fire with tear gas and shotguns, blowing off Meghazi’s hand.

“It is important that I see justice in my life,” he told AFP.

Gamal Eid, a rights lawyer who represented Mubarak’s alleged victims in court, said he was not hopeful of a tough sentence against him or the police chiefs, six of whom were acquitted in the first trial in June 2012.

“I have no confidence, given the past rulings, either against the criminals of the Mubarak regime or the revolutionaries,” said Eid.

“The trials follow the political climate.”

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