Hosni Mubarak Given Life Term for Protester Deaths
Mubarak’s sons and assistant ministers of interior acquittals causing outrage
Hosni Mubarak, former Egyptian President, has been convicted of involvement in the murder of protesters during the Egyptian uprising last year, which saw the end of Mubarak’s 30 year reign.
Mubarak has been sentenced to life in prison along with his former interior minister Habib al-Adly.
However, corruption charges against Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, have been dropped.
Additionally, four assistant ministers of interior have been acquitted on the grounds of insufficient evidence. In a statement today, Human Rights watch called this decision a “failure of the prosecution to fully investigate responsibility for the shooting of protesters in January 2011, giving a green light to future police abuse.”
Crowds inside and outside the court in Cairo showed mixed reactions to the decisions.
As the news of Mubarak’s sentence came through to the hundreds of protesters and relatives of victims outside the court, “jubilation erupted with dozens of anti-Mubarak protesters jumping up and down and waving Egyptian flags and their fists in the air,” the Guardian reports. Many other’s expressed outrage because Mubarak will not face execution.
Upon hearing of the multiple acquittals, the crowd chanted, “False judgements. The people want to clean the judicial system.” Clashes between Mubarak supporters and opponents broke out inside and outside the courtroom after the verdict was read, and some protestors clashed with riot police.
In the court hearing today, Judge Ahmed Rifaat Rifaat described Mubarak’s era as “30 years of darkness” and “a darkened nightmare” that ended only when protesters “peacefully demanded democracy from rulers who held tight grip on power.”
Hossam Baghat, an attorney from the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights told Al Jazeera that the verdict will most likely be appealed.
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Al Jazeera: Mubarak given life term for protester deaths
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The Guardian: Hosni Mubarak sentenced to life in prison
Egyptian TV reported that Mubarak would be transferred from the hospital suite where he has been detained to Torah prison in south Cairo but he may have the right to appeal.
It is unlikely the judge’s verdict will put an end to uncertainty and instability in Egypt. Within minutes of the verdict, young men were pulling barricades on to Tahrir Square. The verdict could damage the chance of Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s former prime minister, in the second round of the presidential election on 16-17 June when he runs against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi.
Outside there were celebrations, with many chanting “God is greatest”. Soha Saeed, the wife of one of those killed in the uprising that toppled Mubarak on 11 February 2011, shouted: “I’m so happy. I’m so happy.” [...]
Scuffles then between Mubarak supporters and opponents broke out inside and outside the courtroom after the verdict was read, reflecting the deep polarisation of the country after more than a year of turmoil. Helmeted riot police also clashed with protesters.
“The people want to cleanse the judiciary,” lawyers chanted inside the courtroom after the verdict. Some raised banners that read, “God’s verdict is execution.”
Rock throwing and fighting left at least 20 people injured, and a police official said that four people were arrested. Thousands of riot police and policemen riding horses had cordoned off the building to prevent protesters and relatives of those slain during the uprising from getting too close. Hundreds stood outside, waving Egyptian flags and chanting slogans demanding “retribution.” Some spread Mubarak’s picture on the ground and walked over it.
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Human Rights Watch: Egypt: Mubarak Conviction a Message for Next President
The landmark conviction of the former EgyptianPresident Hosni Mubarak on June 2, 2012, on charges of complicity in the murder of peaceful protesters during pro-democracy protests sends a powerful message to Egypt’s future leaders that they are not above the law, Human Rights Watch said today. However, the acquittal of four assistant ministers of interior on the grounds of insufficient evidence highlights the failure of the prosecution to fully investigate responsibility for the shooting of protesters in January 2011, giving a green light to future police abuse, Human Rights Watch said.
The North Cairo Criminal Court, with Judge Ahmed Refaat presiding, sentenced Mubarakand his minister of interior, Habib al-Adly,to life imprisonment on the grounds that they knew about and failed to prevent the violence against protesters, after a trial that Human Rights Watch observers considered overall to be in accordance with international fair trial principles.
“These convictions set an important precedent since just over a year ago seeing Hosni Mubarak as a defendant in a criminal court would have been unthinkable,” said Joe Stork, deputy Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “ But the acquittal of senior ministry of interior officialsfor the deaths and injuries of peaceful protesters leaves police impunity intact andthe victims still waiting for justice.”