Tens of Victims’ Families Protest Dropping Charges Against Mubarak

Tens of families of protesters killed during the 18-day January 2011 uprising which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak protested on Saturday a court ruling dropping charges against the toppled president.

Protesters gathered near Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo, calling for retribution for those killed.

Security forces cordoned the small protest, according to eye-witness accounts. Forces had closed Tahrir Square, the prime destination of protesters during the 2011 uprising, as a “precautionary measure” earlier on Saturday.

The Cairo Criminal Court dropped on Saturday the case against Mubarak over complicity in the killing of protesters during the uprising which toppled his regime.

The court also acquitted on Saturday Mubarak’s Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and four of his aides on charges of inciting and aiding the killing of 238 protesters.

The five defendants, alongside other aides Osama al-Marasi and Omar Afifi, were also acquitted of the charge of harming their work-place.

The court has also acquitted Mubarak and Egyptian businessman Hussein Salem of the graft charges related to the exportation of gas to Israel. Salem is being tried in absentia, as he has fled the country since the uprising.

Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal were accused of exploiting their influence in Salem’s favour after the latter granted them five villas in the Sinai resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh. The judge heading the trial, Mahmoud al-Rashidi said that the statute of limitations in this case has expired, and therefore the court lacks jurisdiction to rule on it.

Egypt’s top prosecutor announced on Saturday his intention to challenge all rulings at the Court of Cassation.

The Cairo-based Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights (EIPR) condemned Saturday’s ruling in a press release.

Hoda Nasrallah, a researcher at the organisation, said in the release that the verdict “further solidif[ies] … the security institution’s impunity and reflects the current political atmosphere.”

The organisation said Egypt’s judiciary was “more intent on settling political scores and punishing dissent than establishing justice.” It referred to the conviction of “thousands of political dissidents … based on flimsy evidence” as opposed to Saturday’s acquittals.

Thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters and anti-regime secular activists have been rounded up by the military-insalled regime which ousted former President and Brotherhood member Mohamed Mursi in July 2013.

EIPR reminded of previous acquittals of the “few police officers [who] were charged with killing protesters” during the 2011 uprising, reminding that only two have served time.

The verdict was met with applause within the courtroom.

Outside the court, dozens of Mubarak supporters celebrated his acquittal. They outnumbered the few victims’ families who made it to court on Saturday.

Mubarak and his interior minister were sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for the same charges before an appeals court ordered their retrial. The retrial began in April, 2013.

In May, a Cairo court sentenced Mubarak to three years in prison on embezzlement charges, while his two sons were sentenced to four years in prison for the same charges.

He is serving time in a military hospital in Cairo, where he returned upon Saturday’s ruling.

Mohamed al-Kholeisi, director of the prisons investigation, told Aswat Masriya that the prison authority is waiting on the prosecution’s decision over whether the time Mubarak has already served in preventive detention is more than the three years he has been served.

If so, he will be released from custody.

Source : Aswat Masriya