Is life sentence too soft for Hosni Mubarak?

The trial of former President Hosni Mubarak and his top aides is still far from complete, but he has already been given a life sentence. Head of the investigating committee Yasser Sayyid Ahmed said that Mubarak and Egypt's former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly will return to the courtroom in connection with the new circumstances of the case.

Ahmed pointed out that the court has new evidence proving the involvement of Mubarak and al-Adly in mass shootings of protesters during the "January 25 revolution". In November, the Commission will present a report that will contain information that reveals, as expected, the new facts about the involvement of the defendants in the killing of peaceful demonstrators.

Meanwhile, the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been ongoing intermittently for over a year.

During the revolutionary events in Egypt in January and February of 2011, President Hosni Mubarak, under pressure from the opposition that required fundamental political and social change, was forced to resign on February 11. The power in Egypt went to the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces headed by Marshal Hussein Tantawi.

After that, until August of 2011, Hosni Mubarak was under house arrest at his residence at the Red Sea. A hearing on the case against Mubarak and his sons was scheduled for August 3. The former Egyptian President was brought to court in a hospital bed, as his health seriously deteriorated. Despite the apparent helplessness of the 83-year-old Mubarak, he was put in a cage like a true criminal, and had to give his testimony lying in bed.

Because of the eagerness of many Egyptians to attend the trial, court sessions were held in the auditorium of the Police Academy, and a large screen was installed in the street where the trial was broadcasted. The process was followed by numerous supporters and opponents of the former President, which caused armed clashes that had to be dispersed by the police.

Besides Mubarak, his sons Alaa and Gamal, who were accused of corruption, were present in the court, as well as former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and several of his subordinates. They were charged with numerous killings of protesters during the revolutionary unrest.

Mubarak was accused of the brutal suppression of demonstrations in the days of the Revolution that killed 850 people, abuse of power, and corruption. In particular, he was accused of signing a disadvantageous contract for export of gas to Israel, and of accepting business gifts in the form of villas in Sharm El-Sheikh in exchange for various kinds of patronage. Hosni Mubarak has pleaded not guilty on all of the charges.

The prosecution demanded death penalty for Mubarak, but on June 2, 2012 Mubarak and al-Adly have been sentenced to life. In addition, the former president of Egypt by the court order was stripped off all the awards and his military rank. The society is divided. Some began to demand a more severe sentence, others insisted on innocence of the ex-president. Some also argued that, due to numerous violations committed during the trial, Hosni Mubarak should be found not guilty.

Mubarak's two sons were then found to be innocent, but now they are defendants in several corruption-related cases.

The defense of the ex-president has appealed to the Court of Cassation in Egypt. On December 23 of this year, the Court of Cassation will review the case of Mubarak and al-Adli. The case might be sent back for review, but it is unlikely to benefit the defendants. Head of the investigative committee Muhammad Izzat Sharbash said earlier that the court must consider not only the events in Cairo's Tahrir Square, but also in other provinces of Egypt, in connection with which the investigation may receive new information on the case of Mubarak and al-Adli.

The trial is likely to continue. If new charges are proven, will 84-year-old ill Mubarak be given another life sentence?

The trial of Hosni Mubarak is unique. This is the first case in the Arab practice of law when a country brought a former leader to trial. Mubarak's prosecution was initiated by the people he actually brought to power at some point.

The Washington Post pointed out that the trial of Mubarak started too quickly, only six months after his resignation, while in other similar cases, for example, in Yugoslavia, the evidence base was prepared for much longer and more thoroughly. Hastiness in Egypt is apparent. It partly has to do with the fact that the trial of Mubarak coincided with the campaign for the election of the new president of Egypt won by Mohamed Mursi. The new government could quickly reach a verdict on Mubarak to meet the expectations of the voters.

The sentence for the ex-president of Egypt does not quite fit into the Arab legal tradition. Director of the Middle East Institute Yevgeny Satanovsky noted that Arab leaders were usually expelled from their country after the overthrow, for example, King Farouk of Egypt. Mubarak was offered to leave Egypt, but he flatly refused. According to Satanovsky, the refusal to leave the country is a political mistake of the ex-president.

Hosni Mubarak is a man who has done a lot for the country, and the death penalty would look like gross injustice. But the life sentence is perfectly logical - it is not that severe (considering the status and past accomplishments of Mubarak), and not too soft, considering the wishes of the demonstrators whose opinion had to be taken into consideration.

In addition, prosecutors of Mubarak do not look too credible since they were appointed by him for their positions. Virtually none of the human rights defenders and journalists were allowed at the trial. It was also strange that the actual head of state Hussein Tantawi was brought to a court session as a witness in September of 2011. He was to testify against Mubarak, however, the lawyers of the victims claimed that he had testified in favor of the defendants.

Meanwhile, it is increasingly more obvious that life in Egypt has not become better when Muslim Brotherhood came to power. Political problems have caused economic problems. The standard of living is falling, tourism revenues are reduced, and at the moment there is no effective resolution of the current situation in sight.

Do the forces that initiated riots in the streets of Cairo and led the country to the overthrow of Mubarak want economic and political stability in the country? The Egyptian revolution clearly shows the involvement of the U.S. Many organizers of street riots went through the training of "Twitter revolution" led by U.S. non-governmental organizations. Egypt became a pilot project for testing these technologies.

Cleverly playing on the sentiments of the Egyptian society seeking changes, and given the influence of the "Jasmine Revolution" in Tunisia, the Western spin doctors decided to create chaos in yet another Islamic country, thus increasing the area of instability in the Islamic world. Gradually, the grounds for establishing order by the outside world are getting prepared.

The trial of Mubarak is hardly objective and fair. Who would want stability in Egypt other than its ordinary citizens?

Sergei Vasilenkov


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov