Mubarak’s trial in Egypt: We have come a long way

Hosni Mubarak has appeared in a Cairo court on murder and corruption charges ©Demotix

By Mohammed Lotfy, Amnesty International  researcher for the Middle East and North Africa

Since the morning I had felt that this was going to be a historic day.

I couldn’t wait to watch live on TV the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

As he denied the charges read aloud by the presiding judge, I kept thinking of activists and opponents to his rule who had been unfairly made to stand trial when he was in power.

Like so many other Egyptians, until the very last minute I doubted Mubarak would actually show up to his trial until I saw him lying on the stretcher beside his sons in the courtroom.

His co-defendants the former Minister of the Interior and his senior aides were sitting together on a bench in the same cage, as if in formation.

After watching the day’s proceedings, I thought: “We have come a long way”.  I remembered the promise of truth and accountability that I along with my colleague Diana Eltahawy had made to scores of families of victims whom we met when we were in Egypt during the uprising in January and February 2011.

The loss of their loved ones and their anguish was still fresh. Mubarak was still in power. But they, as well as we, were determined to do all we could to hold to account those responsible for the killings.

Whether it was the young son who was shot dead while taking part in a peaceful protest or the beloved mother killed by a stray bullet in her home, the families struggled to comprehend their loss. Over the past few months I’ve observed how the pain of the families transformed into an unbreakable determination to obtain justice.

Their frustration has been on the increase as they felt that the trials of police officers and investigations into the killings were too slow. Only through constant pressure did the Ministry of Interior finally suspend the police officers suspected of killings from their functions.

But the trial of senior officials such as Mubarak or the former Minister of the Interior had seemed a distant dream.

Besides the charges the former president and the other defendants face, many other human rights violations, such as torture over the past three decades, will need to be addressed. This fight may be an even more difficult.

The trial of Mubarak and his co-defendants so far only addresses the very last crimes committed in the very last days of Mubarak’s rule. This may only be the tip of the Iceberg.

The only way to provide an effective remedy to the victims and to reveal the full truth to all Egyptians about the killings in the ‘25 January Revolution’ is for this trial to be transparent and fair. This may restore people’s faith in the judicial system and demonstrate to them that it is possible to move beyond the decades of repression – so that ‘no one is above the law’ can become a fact and not remain a mere slogan.

Posted in Egypt | 9 Comments

  1. Stephan Engler says:

    We can see Mr. Mubarak in the Cairo court, strapped to his bed, in a cage.
    The Human rights are the same across the world, Amnesty will be the protector of these rights. In Article 5 of the “Universal Declaration of Human Rights” it’s stated:
    “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”. According to the European Court of Human Rights, Russia violated in the case Khodorkovskiy the Article 3 (similar to the article 5) of the European Convention by placing the defendant in a cage.
    The only comment from Amnesty about this trial is: “this trial to be transparent and fair”.
    I wonder how the reaction from Amnesty would be, if we would see such pictures from a “western country” (like Switzerland or Germany). I’m sure this Organisation would strongly protest against such “inhuman” cicumstances……

  2. Malcolm Hecks says:

    The last paragraph says it all for me. MH.

  3. Mohamed Lotfy says:

    Dear Stephen, I see your point on placing a defendant in a cage, which in general may be seen as degarding and questions the presumtion of innocence. We have however to be aware that this is the common practice in trials in Egypt and therefore Mubarak is receiving the same treatment as anybody else. I don’t think Mubarak or his defence lawyer have argued that he should not be in the cage, which I think was the ase in the case from Russia you are referring to.

  4. tina in usa says:

    I agree with mohammed lofty…i lived in egypt 7 years..and this is common practice..the laws and practices of egypt cannot be compared to russia..usa or any other country..Mubarak is not being in anyway harmed in the cage or bed..however his past victims did not favor as well.

  5. Ioannis Pomakis says:

    I think that, as Stephen says, ‘we’ (Intern.Amnesty) must be the protector of these rights, regardless of where they are violated and who the defendant is. Because “The Human rights are the same across the world”. If is the common practice in trials in Egypt (or anywhere else in the world) to be the defendant in a cage, our obligation is to protest about this.

  6. Ike Onuoha says:

    A very good and heartwarming thing anyway is that finally Mubarak is being tried.Trivial concerns about putting him in a cage during trial should not be anybody’s headache yet. What should worry us is that both he and those he abused are given justice.

  7. chandramohan says:

    a person who is unable to sit is itself a disability ,a half live person is kept in a cage is a clear voilation of human right,it tends to think of some stone age laws which is utterly condemnabile, requesting the authorities to abolish such methods of questioning

  8. OTV Egypt says:

    Good, Mubarak’s trial in Egypt: We have come a long way at Livewire – Amnesty International blogging for human rights.

  9. Mubarak’s trial is not only historical, but is natural, but those who kept silent were more criminal than he , Gadhafi, Ali Abdullah Saleh and Bashar al-Assad and others.. But will Mubarak actually tried and sentenced or is it the courts comic because of those who are running the country more loyal to him and perhaps partners in many of the violations

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