CAIRO: The prosecution will challenge the verdict acquitting former President Hosni Mubarak before Egypt’s top court because it is “legally flawed,” according to a Tuesday statement by Attorney-General Hisham Barakat.
Barakat ordered a team of prosecutors to “immediately” begin drafting a memo on the prosecution’s concerns over the ruling. This would be the last escalation possible in Mubarak’s case, where the Cassation Court adjudicates in a given case if it is challenged after a retrial.
“When you trace the stages of this trial, you’d find that it was deliberately meant to reach this end,” lawyer at the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) Mohamed Farouk told The Cairo Post Tuesday.
Farouk speculated that the Cassation Court will either reject the challenge or release a similar judgment yet on different grounds.
The same lawsuit cannot be filed again in Egypt, thus may only be filed at the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, although its resolutions are non-binding to Egypt, Farouk said.
The Cassation Court has only one branch, based in Cairo. When it adjudicates on a case, a group of judges contribute to the ruling, whereas only three judges rule on a case at criminal courts.
Judge Mahmoud al-Rashidy, who issued the Saturday verdict, personally presented a copy of his judgment to the head of Cairo Appeal Court Tuesday morning in a meeting that lasted for an hour and a half amid heavy security, Youm7 reported.
A lawsuit of flaws
“Paradoxically, Judge Mahmoud al-Rashidy wrote his judgment in a 1,430-page file to acquit Mubarak and drop his charges, while he is legally not bound to explain reasons for acquittal,” Mohamed Mahmoud, lawyer at ANHRI told The Cairo Post Tuesday.
“On the other hand, Judge Ahmed Refat who sentenced Mubarak to 25 years in prison in 2012 wrote the grounds of finding Mubarak guilty of plotting to kill protesters in only 100 pages,” said Mahmoud.
Farouk explained that Refat sentenced Mubarak for his “passivity;” he allegedly did not order the protection of the protesters. Rashidy, on the other hand, overlooked the charge because the prosecution investigated Mubarak after the case of his Minister of Interior, Habib al-Adly, had already been filed; a minor procedural error, according to Farouk.
Both Mahmoud and Farouk attended sessions of Mubarak’s trial on behalf of some of the families of the victims of the January 25 Revolution.
Farouk recalled that the prosecution began investigating Adly, with a reputation for brutality, in March 2011, over a month after the case was filed. Mubarak had stepped down on Feb. 11.
The prosecution investigated Mubarak after massive protests demanding trying him in April, and the first court hearing was held in August 2011, when the former President appeared in the dock on a hospital bed.
The case lacked principal perpetrators, although some officers were proven to have been at Tahrir Square during the events, Farouk argued. He also criticized the fact that the prosecution separated related cases: a case for each police station at which protesters were killed, and a case for killing protesters on public roads and squares.
One case after another, all the officers in the cases of police stations were acquitted on grounds of self defense or lack of evidence. Only two policemen are serving terms, according to the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights. One of the officers is Capt. Tamer Refat, who shot a Cairo woman on her balcony as her son was filming the protests below. The film was presented as damning evidence.
Further, the prosecution combined the case of graft with the case of the murder although they are unrelated and not all codefendants share the charge. The case included Mubarak, his two sons, businessman Hussein Salem, Adly and six of his aides. Only the Mubaraks and Salem were accused of graft, while Mubarak and the officers were accused of the killing.
Mubarak was acquitted from the graft charges, including facilitating the export of natural gas to Israel and a below market price for his own profit. Another bribery charge concerned allocating massive pieces of lands in Egypt’s luxurious Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh by the Mubaraks for Salem at a low price in return for over $5.6 million in 2000. The charge was dropped as the statue of limitations had expired.
“The prosecution should count from the time it knew about the bribery and reported it, not from the time it happened. And if it knew about it and did not report it, the Attorney-General responsible at the time should be brought to justice,” Farouk said.
The Cabinet approved Tuesday a draft law presented by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to amend the statute of limitations in the Penal Code, so the 10 years are counted from the time a public servant is out of office, rather than from the time of the bribery.
The long process of the trial and leaving accused officers on the loose allowed the intimidation of witnesses and families of the victims and the disappearance of evidence, Farouk said, adding that many testimonies were changed in the course of the more than three-year trial.
In March 2011, police General Hussein Moussa “accidentally” erased the content of a CD that included calls between top police officials and other officers while attempting to play it for the prosecution. The police claimed it did not have another copy of the information.
Prosecutors seized the CD and other documents at the headquarters of the Central Security Forces (CSF.) When they attempted to play the CD at the prosecution headquarters, they realized that it only plays on the computers of the CSF, Youm7 reported.
Moussa, then the head of the CSF communication department, brought one of the CSF’s computers to the prosecution and made the alleged “mistake;” he said he pressed record instead of play, Youm7 reported.
According to Youm7, the CD included officials ordering their subordinates to shoot protesters. Some officers agreed to the orders, especially those deployed around Tahrir Square to prevent protesters from storming the headquarters of the Ministry of Interior, which lies near the square.
Moussa was sentenced in August 2012 to two years in prison for tampering with evidence.