The court convicted Mubarak and his former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly solely for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the 18 days of the January 25th Revolution; the court claimed there was a lack of evidence to press further. Six others members of the Ministry of Interior were let off the hook due to similar reasoning. A prominent Egyptian lawyer remarked that the judge’s ruling was lawful, only because there was no presence of hard evidence since it had been tampered with to begin with.
Mubarak and al-Adly were sentenced to ‘life’ at Tora Prison, one of the oldest in Egypt on the outskirts of Cairo. Many do not know that ‘Life in Prison’ by Egyptian law standards means only 25 years, which is where some of the Egyptian peoples’ frustrations are coming from. The number of years was not seen as enough, especially since Mubarak’s lawyers are expected to appeal in court. Ironically, Tora Prison accommodated many of the old regime’s vocal critics and basic criminals.
As the helicopter carrying Mubarak arrived at the high security prison, he suddenly had a ‘health crisis’. Some news outlets claimed the former president was having a heart attack, while others said he was refusing to leave the helicopter transport. Whether it was a last attempt stunt or the reality sunk in he was no longer an infallible dictator, we will never know.
Interestingly enough only a day before the verdict, Reuters published a piece on how Mubarak was not only in great health, despite his seemingly frail court appearances on a stretcher, but that he also lived comfortably at the International Medical Center in Cairo. The autocrat was allowed to have visitors, which reportedly consisted of the leaders of several Gulf countries. Mubarak even exercised in its gym with the latest equipment and went swimming, the article said.
Regardless, Mubarak is now in a blue prison uniform like the other prisoners of the eminent Tora Prison, where many of his former dissidents including former presidential candidate Ayman Nour served a sentence.
There were mixed feelings about the verdict, mostly angry sentiments as people took to the streets in cities all over Egypt. The numbers were impressive and something not seen since the anniversary of the Revolution this past January. Some Egyptians spoke of wanting to see the former president and his cronies hung in Tahrir Square, while others wanted to make sure presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq did not become the next president of the new Egypt due to his ties with the old regime. This was a particular emphasis for protesters, due to Shafiq issuing a statement in favor the verdict, which put many Egyptians at unease.
In Tahrir, people gathered by the afternoon in the thousands. The protests were peaceful with families on the sidelines watching, as protesters chanted revolutionary slogans such as “The people demand the fall of the regime.” Various former presidential candidates made appearances, including third place runner-up Hamdeen Sabbahi, who reportedly fainted due to exhaustion twice. Similarly, Abdel Moneim Aboul Fotouh also arrived at the square and fainted as well due to the same conditions.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Mohamed Morsi commented that he was against the verdict and if president, he would retry Hosni Mubarak in court. Many are seeing the Muslim Brotherhood as opportunists who are merely taking advantage of the anti-Shafiq rhetoric pouring in after the court verdict. Regardless, the odds are definitely in their favor thus far.
So many questions are now being raised: How could this verdict be taken serious when Mubarak is being tried by his own regime? Will his lawyers appeal, then what (Albeit it is a fact that they will)? What does this mean if Shafiq wins the presidency, will he pardon Mubarak (Since the President has the ability to)? The upcoming weeks will provide us with answers.
Check out my photos of Tahrir Square at night after the Mubarak Verdict.By By Holly Dagres, Aslan Media Columnist