The day before the court is expected to issue a verdict in former President Hosni Mubarak’s retrial, Egypt’s State Council Commissioner’s Authority said that official requests to halt litigation were out of the State Council’s jurisdiction.
Lawyers had filed a request to stop court proceedings until new legislation was in place that would guarantee a fair trial. The laws currently in place wouldn’t hold the former president and security officers accountable for their crimes, as has been shown by a rash of acquittals on charges ranging from corruption to ordering the killing of peaceful protesters since 2011, the plaintiffs argued.
The authority issued a recommendation to dismiss the request, effectively removing the last legal hurdle to bringing the case to a close.
Mubarak, his Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and six former Interior Ministry officials are being retried on charges of orchestrating the deaths of at least 846 unarmed demonstrators during the January 25, 2011 protests that led to the Mubarak administration’s downfall.
Mubarak, his sons Galal and Alaa, and fugitive businessman Hussein Salem also face accusations of abuse of power and financial corruption in the same case.
The men have denied all charges.
“Mubarak has suffered an injustice for the last three years. What happened in Egypt between January 25, 2011 and June 30, 2013 was a local and international grand conspiracy to destroy the country,” defense attorney Farid al-Deeb told the court in its August 2 session.
The defendants were initially found guilty on all counts and sentenced to 25 years in prison — the maximum sentence in Egypt — in June 2012, a ruling that was met with nationwide acclaim.
However, the Cairo Court of Appeals overturned the verdict citing a lack of prosecutorial evidence, and granted a retrial in January 2013. Proceedings commenced in April of that year, with Judge Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidy presiding over the case.
As the trial drew to its end last month, the court made the unusual concession of allowing both Mubarak and Adly to defend themselves at length in televised statements, which critics of the judicial process say may be a sign that the men will be found innocent.
The ailing Mubarak, who is currently serving a three-year prison sentence on embezzlement charges, addressed the court from a wheelchair, recounting in detail his many sacrifices for Egypt throughout his military and political career.
“As my life approaches its end, thank God I have a good conscience, and I am satisfied I spent it in defense of Egypt,” Mubarak told the judge.
Court proceedings the second time around have been marked by witnesses pulling an about-face on their formerly anti-Mubarak positions. According to the UK-based Guardian newspaper, Ibrahim Eissa — a high-profile newspaper editor and former vitriolic critic of the Mubarak regime — retracted his original testimony, in which he said he saw police shoot demonstrators in 2011. This time, Eissa declared he witnessed no deaths, and lauded the 86-year-old former strongman for his “patriotism” during his 30-year reign.
But despite these potential indications of an innocent verdict, Deeb told the Guardian that since the court has the right to postpone its verdict, the fate of ousted president may still be in limbo even after tomorrow’s session.