CAIRO: Ten lawyers representing the civil society complainants at the trial of Hosni Mubarak demanded adding high treason to the charges, accusing the ousted president of premeditated murder, incitement, complicity in killing protesters and failure to stop violence against them.
Lawyer Amir Salem also demanded charging former vice president and intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, and head of the ruling military council Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi of perjury and obstruction of justice in light of their testimony before the court last September.
Both close associates of Mubarak throughout his rule, have reportedly testified in favor of the ousted president in court sessions that were closed to the media.
Mubarak, former interior minister Habib El-Adly and six of his aides are charged with complicity in the killing of 225 protesters and wounding over 1,300 during the uprising in January and February 2011 which eventually toppled the regime.
Following the prosecution’s argument last week, lawyers representing the victims and their families took turns to argue their plaintiffs’ case, each evoking various articles in the penal code to reiterate the prosecution’s demand for the death penalty for the defendants.
In contrast to chaotic scenes that characterized the early court sessions, Monday’s hearing was the most organized, with clear coordination between the civil society lawyers.
Head of the Lawyers’ Syndicate Sameh Ashour stressed in court that the crime was preplanned from before the first of mass protests on Jan. 25 to guarantee the handover of power to Mubarak’s son, Gamal.
Mubarak’s two sons, Gamal and Alaa, are also standing trial on corruption charges.
Ashour cited Mubarak’s two speeches on Jan. 28 and Feb. 1 to prove that he knew about the violence committed against protesters. He also referred to a meeting between Mubarak, El-Adly, then-prime minister Ahmed Nazif and other top officials on Jan. 20, in which the decision to cut communication was allegedly taken.
The lawyer argued that there was a strong link between cutting communication and planning to kill protesters.
“In this day and age, cutting communication is akin to switching off the lights. One phone call could save a life,” he told the court.
The lawyer cited the verdict in the case of cutting communication, which affirmed that the decision was preplanned, referring to two earlier incidents when it was implemented, particularly on April 6, 2008 in Mahalla and on Oct. 10, 2010.
The lawyer argued that this type of “criminal creativity” proves complicity, in addition to the use of ambulances to hide and transfer weapons to the police and the consequent destruction of footage of Tahrir and communication between top leaders from Jan. 25-31.
“This process of hiding the evidence was methodical,” Ashour said, explaining that the defendants were “deliberately hiding evidence to cover up the crime.”
Salem and lawyer Khaled Abu Bakr also made the same argument, bringing forth more details in a bid to prove the premeditated nature of the crime.
Salem explained to the court the powers given to Mubarak and the security under the emergency law, which effectively made him in charge of the executive and judicial authorities. He said holding such powers proves that no orders of such scale could be given without Mubarak’s knowledge, that is, if he hadn’t given the orders himself.
The lawyer, who also called for charging the head of the republican guard with complicity, said that this unit in the army only took orders from Mubarak and had accordingly secured the passage of thugs attacking protesters in Tahrir Square on Feb. 2.
In what became known as the “Battle of the Camel”, which lasted almost 24 hours, armed men, some on horseback others riding camels, attacked protesters camped in the iconic square. Later on Feb. 3, the military stood between the two groups to stop the attack.
The lawyer said police under Mubarak had enlisted a secret network of 165,000 thugs and ex-convicts to wreak havoc in the country, stressing that they are still operating to this day.
While Abu-Bakr highlighted the humanitarian side by describing the cases he’s representing in court — including one surgeon who had 134 buck shots removed from his body — he also evoked sections of the prosecution’s interrogation of some of the defendants.
El-Adly reportedly told prosecutors that he was in constant contact with Mubarak throughout the events, confirming that the then-president knew about what was happening in the country, including the first four deaths in Suez.
The city is considered to be the birthplace of the uprising, witnessing some of the worst spats of violence and home to the first martyr, shot down in a protest late on Jan. 25.
Abu-Bakr also recalled the interrogation of defendant Ahmed Ramzy, then head of the central security forces, who said that fellow defendant Ismail El-Shaer, then head of the Cairo security directorate and El-Adly’s aide, gave him carte blanche to prevent protesters from reaching Tahrir Square.
The lawyer also referred to the testimony of former interior ministry Mahmoud Wagdy who told the court last September that had he been in El-Adly’s shoes he would have asked the president to address the nation rather than resort to violence.
Following a short recess, lawyer Mohamed El Damaty took the stand and began his statements with a rundown of the manifestations of Mubarak’s 30-year reign of terror, wrapping up with the conclusion that the ousted president had breached the presidential oath in Article 79 of the constitution, stipulating that he is legally committed to protect the people to emphasize his moral responsibility.
He added that claims that Mubarak was not aware of the killing are absurd and that 90 percent of the 1,600 eyewitnesses questioned by the prosecution testified that they saw uniformed and plain-clothed police use rifles and automatic weapons to crush the uprising.
In his statements, lawyer Mohamed Tosson stressed that according to the law, proving the charges of accomplice to murder and aiding and abetting a crime does not require material evidence. He said that the burden of proof does not lie on the shoulders of the prosecution or the victims’ defense team but that the court can deduce complicity from the overall circumstances and the actual manifestations of the crimes, that is, the killing and wounding of hundreds of peaceful protesters.
Another lawyer, Abdel Alim Mandour rebuffed former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman’s testimony claiming that a third party — elements from the Islamist groups Hamas and Hezbollah — had infiltrated the boarders and killed protesters.
“Let’s argue that this third party did exist, who’s side would you think they’d be on? The millions of protesters who have always supported them or the client elites who conspired with Israel against them?”
The judge adjourned the trial to Tuesday, where the court will listen to more statements by the victims’ lawyers.