Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Hosni Mubarak due in dock but Egypt uncertain whether trial will proceed

The 83-year-old ousted president faces charges of corruption and unlawful killing which could carry the death penalty

Jack Shenker in Cairo
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 2 August 2011

"Egypt's faltering revolution will reach a defining moment on Wednesday morning when toppled president Hosni Mubarak goes on trial to face charges of corruption and unlawful killing.

Just over six months after the start of an uprising that would eventually overthrow his regime, ending 30 years of autocratic rule and sending shockwaves across the region, the 83-year-old is scheduled to appear in the dock in white prison overalls and will stand behind the bars of a specially constructed metal cage – although there are some doubts whether he will actually appear.

His much-anticipated downfall is to be screened live on Egyptian state television, attracting tens of millions of viewers. For most, it will be a scene that only last year seemed utterly unimaginable.....

Yet as the final preparations are made to ferry the ailing former leader from his hospital bed in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh to the temporary courthouse – a police academy that once bore his name, in the sandy outskirts of the capital – few Egyptians are under the illusion that this trial will be a panacea for the multiple problems their country is facing......

However, there is uncertainty over whether Mubarak will appear or not, with some reports suggesting that even if he does enter the dock, the trial will be swiftly adjourned – a potentially welcome compromise for the ruling generals, who are facing intense public pressure to see the prosecution through but fear that politically explosive revelations may leak out when Mubarak takes the stand, implicating the army top brass......

Mubarak could face the death penalty if convicted. But even a guilty verdict may not be enough to quell much of the popular anger stemming from his reign, particularly as the "unlawful killing" charges refer only to the 18-day uprising this year - and to none of the alleged brutality that proceeded it.

"My biggest regret is that Mubarak will never face trial for the 30 years of police brutality, systematic torture and forced disappearances carried out under his rule," said Morayef. "His legacy is such a destructive one because he institutionalised abuse, and it will take us generations to overcome that.""

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