Friday, June 1, 2012

Egypt: Mubarak sentencing on Saturday, June 2, 2012


What lies ahead for Hosni Mubarak on judgment day

Former president Hosni Mubarak is facing three scenarios: acquittal, jail or capital punishment. (File photo)

Egyptians are impatiently waiting for the verdict in what has come to be referred to as “the trial of the century” in which former president Hosni Mubarak, his sons and several of his top aides and officials face charges.

Despite the fact Mubarak is not the only defendant, Egyptian public opinion is focusing on the former president’s destiny more than the others and the media has been preoccupied with the trial’s possible outcomes.

Egyptian state television will broadcast live the verdict and sentencing on Saturday, official media reported.
The first several hearings the trial, which started in August, were broadcast live, but chief judge then ordered cameras out before witnesses began to take the stand.
According to the Egyptian newspaper al-Youm al-Sabea, Mubarak is facing three scenarios: acquittal, jail or capital punishment. 

In the first scenario, Mubarak will be found not guilty of the killing of unarmed protestors during the days of the revolution and will consequently be set free. This would absolve security forces charged with firing live ammunition at the protestors in the first place and that they only used tear gas and water cannons. 

This scenario is expected to infuriate Egyptians who will most likely take to the streets to protest what they would see as a betrayal to the revolution.

The second scenario is the prosecution will have proved that security forces did fire at protestors. In this case, Mubarak would be found guilty of inciting murder even if he did not directly give the police orders to fire and was not even aware they did so. 

This scenario could lead to a10-year prison sentence. If the prosecution proves that he knew about the firing at protestors but did not order it, he might receive 25 years in jail.

The third scenario is that the prosecution will be able to prove that Mubarak gave orders to security to use violence in dispersing protests and to fire at protestors. In this case, Mubarak will be found guilty of premeditated murder and could therefore be sentenced to death. This is considered the most unlikely scenario.

In case of the second scenario, seen as the most likely, the main issue would be the place of detention and how suitable it can be in relation to Mubarak’s health. It remains to be seen whether he will be detained at a special place other than the regular facilities in accordance with the medical reports presented to the prosecutor general.

In addition to the possible verdicts, speculations are rife about how Egypt’s next president would react should Mubarak be put in jail. 

Observers are specifically wondering what Mubarak’s former minister and last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, known also to be one of his closest aides, will do if he wins the elections and whether he will grant Mubarak a presidential pardon. 

Head of the Socialist Popular Alliance Party, Abdul Ghaffar Shukr says if Mubarak is acquitted, the Egyptian people’s reaction is bound to be very forceful.

“Public opinion in Egypt will be rattled by such a verdict and the country will go through a long phase of upheaval and we don’t know what the consequences could be,” he told Al Arabiya. 

Shukr said the likelihood of Mubarak receiving amnesty is impossible even if Shafiq is the next president.

“The next president, whoever he is, will not be able to take the Egyptian people to the past.”

Lawyer Mohammed al-Damati, member of the civil rights plaintiffs’ defense team, however, had a different opinion.

“If Shafiq becomes president, he will definitely grant Mubarak amnesty for this is the whole point of his nomination,” he told Al Arabiya.

According to legal expert Bahaa Abu Shuqa, the best solution is to postpone the verdict until presidential election is over.

“The timing of the verdict is not suitable since the Egyptian people are already strained about the elections and are anticipating a disaster if Shafiq becomes president and pardons Mubarak,” he told Al Arabiya.

Abu Shuqa added that despite the validity of people’s fears about Shafiq’s reaction to Mubarak’s verdict, this scenario is next to impossible.

“Any coming president will not dare challenge the will of the people like this and will never succeed in taking Egypt back to the pre-January 25 era.” 

(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)