By Samer al-Atrush
By Samer al-Atrush
CAIRO, June 2, 2012 (AFP)
Silence fell over the court room, and outside where families of the victims had gathered, to hear the verdict in the murder trial of Egypt’s fallen dictator Hosni Mubarak.
But rage overtook the families of Mubarak’s victims, and the lawyer’s representing them, as the court sentenced Mubarak and his interior minister to life but acquitted their six security commanders on the same charges.
They had been charged with the murder of some of the 850 people killed during the 18-day uprising that ousted Mubarak in February 2011.
Outside the Police Academy, Mohammed Abdel Fattah, the father of 11-year-old Hassan, shot dead during the uprising, held up the bloodied shirt and jacket of his son, both punctured in the back with what he said was a bullet hole.
“It’s void, it’s void,” he screamed of the sentence.
The chief judge, Ahmed Refaat, had started with a speech scolding Mubarak and his top security officials, who were crammed in a caged dock in the courtroom.
Mubarak’s rule was “30 years of black, black, black darkness; the darkness of bitter winter,” he said. The uprising that toppled Mubarak brought “a new dawn to Egypt.”
Gasps could be heard inside the courtroom, packed with police who lined up in front of the defendant’s cage, when he sentenced Mubarak and his interior minister Habib al-Adly to life. Outside, families of the victims launched firecrackers.
The defendants were mostly obscured by police who stood in front of the black metal cage.
But the relief turned to rage as the judge exonerated Mubarak’s six police commanders, and his two sons on corruption charges.
“The people demand the purification of the judiciary,” lawyers representing the victims chanted, before a brief scuffle broke out in the academy lecture hall the serves the courtroom.
“The sentencing will give them innocence in an appeal,” said Ahmed Hassan, one of the lawyers representing the victims’ families.
Critics of the trial had been scathing of the prosecution’s choice of witnesses from start. In the sentencing, Refaat conceded that they were unreliable.
“He should be executed as he executed our sons,” said Mustafa Mursi, whose 18-year-old son was also shot dead outside a police station, referring to Mubarak.
“This sentencing paves the way for a pardon when Shafiq comes to power,” he added, referring to Mubarak’s last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, who faces the Islamist Mohammed Mursi in a presidential election runoff on June 16-17.
Riot police advanced as some of the enraged protesters threw empty soda cans at them, beating them back with truncheons. And they quickly moved in to separate the protesters when they began fighting with pro-Mubarak demonstrators.
“The second revolution will come. God willing, there will be a new revolution,” Mursi vowed.