By MAHMOUD SAAD EL-DIN
After [Mubarak-era Prime Minister] Ahmed Nazif and [former Interior Minister] Habib el-Adly received a final, unchallenged verdict acquitting them in the “license plates” case, it is important now to think collectively: why was there a mass acquittal?
Why are Sameh Fahmi [former minister of petroleum,] Ahmed Ezz [Business man, former NDP member,] Anas el-Fiqqi [former information minister,] Zoheir Garranah [former tourism minister,] Ahmed el-Maghrabi [former housing minister] and Zakariya Azmy [former chief of presidential staff] out of prison?
From my point of view, after following up on the cases of the former regime’s figures and attending few court hearings, I think the reasons are centered on the following points:
1- The trial was a mistake from the very beginning; we were simply trying Mubarak over charges of seizing a piece of land and three villas; putting Alaa Mubarak and Adly in the same court deck over killing protesters, accusing Sameh Fahmy in [illegally exporting gas to Israel] case, although we knew the case basically was a national security issue, and that Fahmy was only following instructions.
We accused Ahmed Ezz of steel monopoly charges, even though the Protection of Competition and Prevention of Monopoly Practices Authority itself officially denied Ezz’s steel monopoly before and after the [Jan. 25] revolution.
2- I think Mubarak’s men should have faced political trials for corrupting political life and elections and for creating an atmosphere of rage in the country that eventually led to January 25 Revolution. Their trials should not have been based on criminal charges; Mubarak’s lawyers realized how to play with these accusations and disprove them in the courts.
3- If you search for names of Mubarak regime figures, you will find them all outside prison for one reason: all the investigations carried out into their cases were weak. Three years ago, we warned that investigations were not adequate and did not include strong enough evidence to prosecute them.
The investigations came at stressful times, when the prosecution was seeking to rapidly pass cases to contain the streets. But unfortunately, the trial’s papers were incomplete and ended up with mass acquittals.
4-Also, there was no serious plaintiff team formed to defend the rights of the Egyptian people in all the Mubarak men cases. The plaintiffs were attending individually, and sometimes had to fight for the microphone to be heard. In the case of killing 2011 uprising protesters, more than 70 plaintiffs attended the trial hearings, while only one lawyer, Yasser Sayed Ahmed, was present at court during the retrial sessions.
Eventually, the defense counsel controlled the sessions and got a full chance to exonerate their clients.
5- The mass acquittal was not a surprise to me; I was expecting it. I saw it coming three years ago, while watching the trials and their legal developments. There was always a progress in favor of the defendants. With every new hearing in a different case, I found most of the time the investigations submitted were inaccurate, and more rhetorical than informative.
6- The mass acquittal: we are the main reason for it, even more than the efforts exerted by the defendants’ lawyers in favor of their clients.
Mahmoud Saad el-Din is the head judiciary correspondent at Youm7 newspaper
The views expressed in opinion pieces are the responsibility of the authors and do not reflect the editorial policy of The Cairo Post.
Translated by Nourhan Magdi