If anyone harbored doubts about the re-emergence of military rule in Egypt, the decision to acquit its former dictator should remove all of the blinkers still remaining. A court dismissed murder and corruption charges first brought against Hosni Mubarak after the Arab Spring revolution created a Muslim Brotherhood government that attempted to impose Islamist rule in Cairo. The military overthrew the Mohamed Morsi regime and installed its top general to replace Morsi, and now a court has let Mubarak off the hook:
An Egyptian court on Saturday dismissed murder charges against former President Hosni Mubarak in connection with the killing of hundreds of protesters in the 2011 uprising that ended his nearly three-decade rule, citing the “inadmissibility” of the case due to a technicality.
The ruling marks another major setback for the young activists who spearheaded the Arab Spring-inspired uprising nearly four years ago — many of whom are now in jail or have withdrawn from politics. It will likely reinforce the perception that Mubarak’s autocratic state remains in place, albeit led by a new president, former military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi.
Saturday’s verdict concludes Mubarak’s retrial along with his two sons, his security chief and six top security commanders, who were all acquitted. Also acquitted was businessman Hussein Salem, a longtime Mubarak friend tried in absentia.
The court didn’t consider the dismissal an endorsement of Mubarak’s regime, but suggested that he should have been allowed to retire rather than get hauled before a tribunal because of his advanced age:
Presiding judge Mahmoud al-Rashidi made clear that the dismissal of the charges did not absolve Mubarak of the corruption and “feebleness” of the latter years of his 29-year rule and praised the 2011 uprising, saying that its goals – freedom, bread and social justice – were legitimate.
Al-Rashidi said Mubarak, like any other human, erred at times and suggested that his old age should have spared him a criminal trial. He also cited Mubarak’s long years in public service and what he called the enshrinement of “constitutional legitimacy” following the ouster of Mubarak’s successor, the Islamist Mohammed Morsi.
The Muslim Brotherhood protested the dismissal, and warned that the outcome will change again once they return to power in a new revolution:
“The fascist putschists may continue to summon Mubarak’s gang back to life but this will not change the reality on the ground,” said Abdullah El-Haddad from the London Muslim Brotherhood press office.
“The next trial for Mubarak and his corrupt cronies will be a revolutionary one. Justice will prevail and the revolution will have its say,” said El-Haddad.
Hefni agrees that another revolution is inevitable.
“[Al-Sisi’s] character is his doom. Supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood are increasing. The more injustice, the more the truth becomes clear.” Al-Sisi may be winning the police and the military, but he is losing the support of the people, said Hefni.
“There are daily/weekly protests all over Egypt. Protesters are defiant, determined and they welcome anyone who wants to join,” El-Haddad added.
Ironically, Morsi remains in prison, facing similar charges related to protester deaths during his short reign in Cairo. Will a court in the military-supported government find similar technical impediments to convictions as this court did with Mubarak? I’d bet no.