So the first judicial ruling has been issued against an Egyptian ruler!
The verdicts that were issued yesterday by the Cairo Criminal Court, presided over by Judge Ahmed Refaat, against former president Muhammad Hosni Mubarak, his two sons – Gamal and Alaa Mubarak – as well as former Egyptian Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and six of his aides, has been the subject of huge controversy in Egypt.
These rulings will have long-lasting political repercussions; this is something that will not only affect the era of the former president, but also the era of the future president, and his successors as well.
These rulings come at a time when the judiciary and the political scene are being combined, not to mention the mixing of the past, present and future. In addition to this, we are seeing objective rulings being mixed with human emotion and the previous political positions of various different parties in Egypt and abroad. However despite all this, there are some points that we must focus on:
Firstly, bringing the most senior figure in the former political regime to trial is an unprecedented principle, and this is something that will ensure that everybody – and everything – is subject to accountability.
Secondly, the former president and those with him in the dock were tried before an ordinary court, not a political or extraordinary one. This is something that has been praised by the international community, most prominently by international human rights groups.
Thirdly, the verdict was based on physical evidence, the testimonies of witnesses, and the arguments of the prosecution and defense teams, not the political stance of the court, or in order to politically satisfy any section of the Egyptian society.
Fourth, the political interpretations of this trial will no doubt be utilized in the forthcoming presidential run-off vote. Those who champion General Ahmed Shafiq, who belongs to the era of the former president, will use this verdict, namely the acquittal on charges of corruption or profiteering, whilst the conviction [against Mubarak] was on charges of failing to stop the killing of protesters, rather than issuing orders for protesters to be killed.
This point will be challenged at the next judicial stage, namely the court of cassation.
Whilst the supporters of Dr. Mohamed Mursi, the presidential candidate of the Freedom and Justice party – the political wing of the Muslim Brotherhood – will interpret the rulings as a condemnation of the Mubarak era, which General Shafiq was a part of.
As for the revolutionaries and the families of the victims, they are in a state of shock, because the ruling failed to identify which party was responsible for the orders to kill peaceful protesters.
We must also emphasize that, at the time that this article was written, no party has seen the full provisions for this verdict, therefore these rulings remain shrouded in ambiguity and uncertainty, and this is something that may have a negative effect on national stability.
Ultimately, these rulings have failed to satisfy anybody, and the well-respected Judge Ahmed Refaat – who reaches the legal retirement age at the end of the month and is set to step down from the judiciary - does not need to satisfy anybody, except God Almighty and his own conscience as a judge.
It remains that the former president, whose physical health is currently deteriorating, preventing him from eating or taking medicine, feels that he has not been dealt with justly. In fact, he was quoted yesterday – whilst being transferred to Tora prison – as saying, “they have wronged me…Allah is sufficient and He is the best disposer of affairs.”