CAIRO: Ousted president Hosni Mubarak is likely to face the death penalty if proven guilty of being involved in the killing of peaceful protesters as well as the attempted murder of others, law professor Salah Sadek told Daily News Egypt.
“A person who incites such a crime is an accessory to murder who legally receives a verdict similar to the perpetrator’s,” Sadek added.
Prosecutor General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud referred Mubarak to the Cairo Criminal Court over corruption charges and responsibility for killing and injuring protesters during the first days of the January 25 Revolution.
On April 19, an official fact-finding mission said in a 400-page report that at least 864 were killed and 6,467 injured during the revolution, holding Mubarak and then interior minister Habib El-Adly accountable.
The prosecution’s investigation revealed that Mubarak cooperated with El-Adly and senior police officials to deliberately kill protesters, by ordering officers to shoot them and run them over with their vehicles.
El-Adly and dozens of policemen are currently facing trial over similar charges.
Mubarak has also been accused of involvement with former petroleum minister Sameh Fahmy in enabling businessman Hussein Salem to unrightfully acquire financial benefits worth over LE 40 billion in facilitating the natural gas deal with Israel at low prices.
Mubarak was also referred to the Military Prosecution to be questioned over arms deals in accordance with military laws when it comes to issues related to "the interests and secrets of the armed forces."
“Mubarak should be prosecuted for high treason since he violated the presidential oath of office … committing several crimes against his people … for 30 years,” Sadek argued, expressing doubts over the seriousness of the trial.
“Had there been a serious intention to take Mubarak to court, he should have faced trial right after he stepped down on Feb. 11 … as all his crimes were exposed after the revolution erupted,” he added.
Sadek accused the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), running the country since Mubarak stepped down, of procrastination in enforcing the law against him.
“It should not take all this time to investigate the charges against him. For long he remained under house arrest inside a palace in Sharm El-Sheikh resort,” Sadek said.
On April 10, the prosecutor general summoned Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal for interrogation over the above charges, previously denied by the former president.
Alaa and Gamal were taken to Cairo’s Tora prison, while Mubarak remained in custody at Sharm El-Sheikh hospital until his medical state stabilizes.
Since then, Mubarak’s detention was renewed three times, 15 days each, which stirred the angry reactions of activists and political forces who accused the SCAF of being lenient with Mubarak.
“If anybody else faced similar accusations, there would be no place for him other than jail,” Sadek said.
“Protesters were referred to military courts and received prompt verdicts in one or two days … at the time when Mubarak’s detention was constantly renewed for no logical reason,” he added.
However, Sadek believes Mubarak still deserves a fair trial before a civilian court that should be open to the public and broadcast live.
Salem, a friend of Mubarak’s, was referred to a criminal court for offering Mubarak gifts as the president, namely a palace and four villas in Sharm El-Sheikh worth LE 40 million. In return, Mubarak paid symbolic amounts of money to facilitate Salem’s ownership of millions of meters of state-owned land in special spots in South Sinai.
Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa Mubarak, were charged with accepting four villas in Sharm El-Sheikh worth LE 14 million.
The prosecution said that the charges against Gamal and Alaa Mubarak in this case are only in crimes related to their father.
Lawyer Yasser Fathi told DNE that such economy-related crimes are legally classified as “embezzlement of public funds.”
“But when it comes to the highest authority in the country committing crimes in a way that never occurred in history, a different approach to prosecute him should be considered,” he said.
According to Fathi, some of the offenses Mubarak committed entail political factors, requiring a political entity to look into them like the parliament that can form a special court for him.
“A special court can have broader jurisdictions … that can mull over all charges collectively … not one by one,” he said.
Even though several local and international human rights groups were quick to hail the prosecutor’s decision, they expressed some reservations.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) welcomed what it described as a “conclusive step towards penalizing the members of the former regime for their crimes against the people and the revolutionists.”
In an official statement released Tuesday, ANHRI called on the prosecutor general and the justice minister to allow human rights groups to follow up on the trial and allow people to witness the hearings.
Amnesty International called on authorities on Tuesday to prosecute all of those responsible for the killings and torture of protesters, including the military.
"That Mr. Mubarak and his sons are to stand trial is a very welcome step … [but] the families of those killed during protest violence have a right to justice as do all those who were seriously injured or subjected to arbitrary detention or torture, including at the hands of the military," the statement read.
On Wednesday, the Arab Center for the Independence of Judiciary and the Legal Profession (ACIJLP) demanded that Mubarak and others charged with violations committed at the time of the overthrown regime would be granted fair trials.
The center called for serving justice and ignoring any other considerations or revenge motives.
“Despite its utmost importance, this [legal] step was taken relatively late, which raised doubts over the possibility of referring the ex-president to court,” ACIJLP said, also expressing relief over the prosecutor’s decision.