Egypt's top prosecutor to appeal Mubarak verdict

AP News
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Posted: Dec 02, 2014 12:24 PM
Egypt's top prosecutor to appeal Mubarak verdict

CAIRO (AP) — Egypt's top prosecutor said Tuesday that a court ruling dismissing a murder case against ousted leader Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters in 2011's uprising is "legally flawed" and that he intends to appeal it.

Saturday's verdict said the case against Mubarak was "inadmissible" on a technicality. But it also described the uprising as part of a joint, region-wide "American-Hebrew" plot to undermine Arab countries for Israel's benefit.

The ruling also acquitted Mubarak's security chief and six top police commanders of charges connected to the killing of protesters during the popular uprising against his 29-year rule. Mubarak stepped down Feb. 11, 2011, handing the reins of power to the military.

He and his two sons, businessman Alaa and one-time heir apparent Gamal, were acquitted of corruption charges in the same case. Hussein Salem, a longtime Mubarak friend and wealthy businessman, was also acquitted of corruption charges. He is a fugitive and was tried in absentia.

The prosecutor's statement Tuesday did not say why he saw the verdict as flawed nor stipulate when the appeal, which was expected, will be submitted to the Court of Cassation, the nation's highest tribunal whose rulings are final.

The verdicts have sparked a wave of protests in Cairo and across much of Egypt over the past two days. Two protesters died in Cairo and about 10 were injured in clashes with police in Cairo just hours after the verdicts were announced.

In dismissing the case, Judge Mahmoud al-Rashidi said that Mubarak's May 2011 referral to trial ignored a decision by prosecutors made two months previously not to try him. In theory, the dismissal of the case does not exonerate the 86-year-old Mubarak, but the acquittal of Mubarak's security chief and the six police commanders implicitly absolve him of the killings.

Nearly 900 protesters were killed during the 2011 uprising. The case however concerned itself with 239 deaths it says were named in the case.

Mubarak's acquittal bolstered the notion held by some Egyptians that Mubarak's regime remains intact nearly four years after its overthrow and that the nation's current leader, former military chief Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, is its extension. In its ruling citation, the court used a multi-tiered narrative that, in part, echoes that used by Mubarak-era figures, the military and media celebrities loyal to el-Sissi.

The 280-page citation praised the 2011 revolution and harshly criticized the Mubarak regime for corruption, feebleness and the inability to take decisions quickly in its latter years. But it also said the revolt was part of an "American-Hebrew" plot to break Arab nations into tiny entities so Israel can retain its position as the region's most powerful nation.

It also accuses Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood of using the uprising for its own interests.

The Brotherhood, it claims, colluded with the militant Hamas group in the neighboring Gaza Strip and Lebanon's Hezbollah to raid police stations across much of Egypt during the uprising, freeing detainees and looting weapons and ammunition. It also accuses them of attacking and breaking open several prisons to free detained Hamas and Hezbollah operatives as well as senior Brotherhood members along with thousands of inmates.

Some 170 police and security officials have since 2011 been put on trial in connection with the killing of the protesters. Almost all were acquitted for lack of sufficient evidence, or on the grounds of self-defense. In the citation, the court says it did not hear or see anything to suggest that Mubarak's security chief, Habib el-Adly, or any of his aides ordered security forces to fire at protesters. They urged them to exercise restraint and only use water and tear gas, it said.

The court, however, acknowledged that there were a few cases when policemen defied orders and acted on their own, using personal firearms to shoot protesters. It also explained that incidents of protesters being run over by police trucks were not intentional but the result of panicked drivers trying to escape the protesters.