By Rania Al Malky
CAIRO: When this is all over and we look back to 2011 in 20 years’ time, the single most important outcome of the January 25 uprising will be the fate of Mubarak, his immediate family and their close-knit clique, some now basking in Tora prison while others continue to run the show whether from their seats on the now infamous military council, the labyrinth of Maspero or the intricate networks of security-thug networks which continue to work seamlessly together.
Never has a name so aptly reflected the man who carries it as is the case with Mubarak’s lawyer Farid El-Deeb, literally “Farid The Wolf”.
In Egyptian colloquial culture, describing someone as a “wolf” is a direct reference to the devious and cunning stratagems employed by that person to manipulate or persuade others to do what he wants. The wiles of El-Deeb in court are the dictionary definition of skewing laws and distorting realities.
In his defense statements representing Mubarak for charges of complicity in killing peaceful protesters and making illicit gains, which began Tuesday, El-Deeb’s strategy is to attempt to uproot the case. In his initial statements, he demanded that the court dismiss the case as a whole, claiming that despite the prosecution’s “slanderous” statements in court the week before, which he deemed a violation of the Egyptian Court Procedures Act because they “offended” his defendant, the prosecution itself did not appear to believe that there was a case against Mubarak.
He defended his argument by pointing out that the prosecution pressed charges against Mubarak for killing protesters two whole months after pressing the same charges against ex-Interior Minister Habib El-Adly, also a defendant in the same case, despite the fact that most of the complaints filed by the victims’ families and the official fact-finding mission’s report accused Mubarak and El-Adly of shared responsibility for the killings.
The next day, El-Deeb said that since Mubarak ordered the deployment of army forces and imposed a curfew on Jan. 28 at 4 pm, the head of the military is responsible for any killings that took place after that date. He also blamed foreign elements for the killings.
On day three, El-Deeb fired another bombshell, claiming that a civilian court cannot try Mubarak on charges of making illicit gains and abusing his authority because legally Mubarak is a military general whose case falls under the jurisdiction of the military court. Citing a law adopted in 1979 under Mubarak’s predecessor Anwar Sadat, El-Deeb said that senior military officers are exempt from going into retirement and that even if they take up civilian posts, they regain their military rank afterwards. Hence, when Mubarak resigned on Feb. 11, he automatically rejoined the ranks of the armed forces.
Characteristically, El-Deeb’s arguments were strong and convincing for the spilt second it took him to make them. Riddled with half-truths and distractions whose ultimate aim is yet to be revealed, his arguments overlook the core gist of the charges Mubarak is facing – complicity in as well as aiding and abetting the killing of 225 and injuring over 1,300 peaceful protesters – which refer to his moral responsibility for the deaths as the head of state at the time the crimes were committed. His claim that Mubarak’s responsibility ended on the moment the armed forces were deployed, fails to free him from accountability because at that point he was still the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, according to the constitution. Besides, even if the argument holds, it does not shield Mubarak from responsibility for the killings that were committed between Jan. 25-28.
The final trick he pulled from his hat was the claim that Mubarak’s illicit gains charges fall under the authority of a military court.
What does El-Deeb intend by attempting to refer the case to the military prosecutor? Is he sending a clear message to the current ruler of Egypt, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawy, that if he fails to protect his former boss by taking the case to the military court, that he too will have to face a civilian court for the killing of protesters between Feb. 11 and the cabinet clashes in December when 17 protesters were killed as well as for alleged corruption?
El-Deeb also referred to a decree that was (stealthily) issued by the military council last May stipulating that “military justice alone is authorized to try cases of illicit gains by the military” has drawn renewed and clearly “unnecessary” attention to SCAF’s efforts to immune their members from public scrutiny. Are such statements an attempt by Mubarak and his lawyer to wage an all-out war against the Generals, or are they a reflection of the final shot by SCAF in collusion with Mubarak to provide him with legal cover within the safe confines of a military court that will prove him innocent.
Today it has become even more impossible to speculate on which direction the case will take. El-Deeb and the misinformation brigades that have been doing their utmost to marginalize the importance of this trial and the impact of its outcome on the future of Egypt, have sadly succeeded in dividing Egyptians on how best to punish Mubarak for his crimes.
The only problem is that he has not been charged with the one crime that a real revolution would have confronted him with on Feb. 11: political corruption.
It’s never too late.
Rania Al Malky is the Chief Editor of Daily News Egypt.