Hosni Mubarak’s Sentencing To Live in Prison Causes Many In Egypt To Protest
Thousands of Egyptians took to the Tahrir Square in anger on Saturday night as the word got out that former president Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for his participation in the events that led to his ouster in January and February 2011. The people protest against the leniency of the judge who had the option of death penalty but chose the life in prison charge in stead.
Mubarak was sentenced for failing to use his presidential office power to stop the use of live ammunition against the protesters in Tahrir Square during the Egyptian revolution. No evidence that he was the one who ordered the repression was found, which could explain the fact that he avoided the gallows.
Mubarak appeared in court on a stretcher, was placed in the cage which he invented for the Egyptian courts, and was communicated the verdict of life imprisonment by Judge Ahmed Refaat, who praised the day when Mubarak’s trial began, August 3, 2011, as a historic day.
He also sentenced former interior minister Habib al-Adli to life in prison; the two sons of the former president, Alaa and Gamal were sentenced to the time in prison they already served, for some corruption accusation, while acquitting them of other charges, and six of the security officials were also acquitted.
The prosecutor general has ordered that Mubarak be transferred from the hospital, where he received treatment, to a prison, where he is to serve his time in prison as the judge sentenced. Mubarak’s defense announced it would appeal.
While campaigning for presidential run-offs, which will be held in two weeks, the Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohammad Morsi, promised that if he became president he would collect enough evidence to keep Mubarak in prison for the rest of his life. He said that justice would be rendered to the martyrs of the revolution.
The outcome of Mubarak’s trial was seen differently by the people of Egypt, as many people outside the courtroom rejoiced, and the families of those who had suffered at the hand of Mubarak’s security forces scuffled with the police inside the courtroom, demanding for a purging of the judicial system.
There were people who supported Mubarak and hoped for his acquittal, and there were those who had hanged his effigy in public hoping that the judicial system would hang the former president himself. Analysts consider that the number of those who were expecting nothing short of a death sentence was not too high, a year after the fall of the regime, as the country is still striving to find a way to get out of the economic and social problems it is facing.
Mubarak was brought before judges in August 2011, in an unprecedented move for an Arab country, presented on television for the entire world to see on a stretcher in a cage in the courtroom.
The image of the almighty president reduced to the ill man sitting in a cage in a courtroom cause much disturbance in the country, as his followers clashed with the security forces and the supporters of a harsh treatment applied to the presidential family.
The judge ordered the cameras to be turned off after the first session of the trial, and the procedures continued with the goal of establishing whether the former president ordered, or knew about, the use of live ammunition against the population protesting in Egypt.
After a few witnesses were accused of lying under oath as they pretended not to know who had issued the order and even not to have used live ammo, the process was suspended in September, as the deposition of the supreme military council in power, General Hussein Tantawi, forced the defense to repudiate the judge and ask for another.
The verdict passed on Saturday was criticized by the members of the Muslim Brotherhood, whose organization had been outlawed during the Mubarak regime. they were furious that the verdict did not cover all the charges.
Mubarak and his former interior minister were accused of accessory to murder and attempted murder. 850 protesters lost their lives in January and February 2011, in confrontation with security forces in Cairo and other major cities of the country.
There was a sense of frustration because of the acquittal of the six security officers while the president and the interior minister were sentenced. People accused the judicial of being biased and the confrontation with the security forces that followed caused 61 to be injured.
The Muslim Brotherhood called for massive protests in Tahrir Square against the ruling of the court, while Human Rights Watch accused the procedures of not being thorough, adding however that the sentence was a landmark in Arab world politics, as it sent out the signal for the future presidents that the era of impunity was over.11