Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Mubarak on Trial: Lying While Lying on a Gurney

A poster with a picture of a man who was killed during the revolution is carried as Egypt's ousted President Hosni Mubarak is seen on a TV screen as he enters the courtroom on a hospital bed, outside the Police Military Academy complex in Cairo, Egypt. (Nasser Nasser/AP)

Today the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal began at the Police Academy on the outskirts of Cairo. This is a historic moment for Egypt and for MENA countries. For the first time an Arab dictator, and not just his Minister of the Interior, is seen being tried in a court of law on charges of corruption and of killing protesters. An Egyptian journalist interviewed  on the BBC pointed out that a poll showed 70% of the Egyptian population felt it was important for them to see Mubarak on trial.

Egyptian former interior minister Habib al-Adly (R) stands along side Alaa (2nd R) and Gamal (L) Mubarak in a holding cell in the court room in the police academy on the outskirt of the capital Cairo.

Mubarak and his sons all denied all charges. Mubarak did so from a hospital gurney, while his two sons stood before him, in a cage in the centre of the courtroom. This cage-like holding cell is a feature of certain trials in Egypt, particularly military ones, as this one is.

The date of the trial had been postponed a number of times, due to Mubarak's health, and the venue changed a number of times in the lead up to this day. Finally, it was determined that the Police Academy outside of downtown Cairo would be the most secure and least disruptive place to hold the trial. It is harder to reach than a downtown location, and protesters gathering there cause less disruption to already congested downtown Cairo traffic.

Egyptians loyal to the former president strike a foe during the trial of officials from the ousted government outside police academy where the opening of their trial is taking place on the outskirts of Cairo. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

An Egyptian anti-Mubarak protester flashes a noose during a protest outside the police academy in Cairo. (Amr Nabil/AP)

An Egyptian protestor argues with riot police outside the court set up in the Cairo Police Academy on the first day of the trial of Egypt's ousted president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons. (Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)

Protesters, both pro- and anti-Mubarak, did demonstrate in front of the Police Academy. They also clashed with each other and tested the police force. Mubarak supporters bore pictures of the strong, healthy looking Mubarak in a power suit--a sharp contrast to the ill, feeble, aged man draped in white sheets, no longer striding but being rolled along.

Supporters of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak hold his picture and shout slogans outside the police academy where Mubarak's trial is held on the outskirt of Cairo. (Khaled Desouki/AFP/Getty Images)

Mubarak's age, health problems, and physical and mental fragility have resulted in some Western articles criticizing bringing him to justice in a formal court proceeding. Then again, the West dawdled on asking him to step down, or taking action to encourage that. President Obama was particularly good at desperately pleading for Mubarak to institute reform--the subtext being, "Do something so we can continue to support you in power".

However, that is a problem with dictators and brutes generally, isn't it? That they have the force and support to stay in power until they are old and physically ill. Then they have the power and resources to evade justice a while longer. That doesn't mean they should, however. Justice is (supposedly) blind, and for certain crimes (against humanity) there is no statute of limitations.

83-year-old former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak laying on a hospital bed inside a cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011. (Egyptian State TV)

Others have commented that Mubarak is not bad as dictators go, at least in comparison to Libya's Gaddafi and Syria's Al-Assad. They seem to have impaired long and short term memory--forgetting the decades of repression, censorship, brutality, torture, and corruption, or the violence against peaceful protestors of Egypt's January 15 revolution. Anti-Mubarak protesters at his trial bore photos of Khaled Saeed, arrested from an internet cafe and beaten to death by police in a nearby building, and of other martyrs of the Egyptian Spring.

Egyptian riot police line up behind a banner with pictures of men killed during the revolution carried by anti-Mubarak protesters, outside the Police Military Academy complex in Cairo, Egypt. (Nasser Nasser/AP)

Denying all charges, in other words claiming innocence of all charges, is the first lie from Mubarak lying on his gurney. Self-defense is understandable, even in the face of evidence to the contrary. However, as the trial proceeds, there will be more lies, no doubt.

83-year-old former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak laying on a hospital bed inside a cage of mesh and iron bars in a Cairo courtroom, Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2011. (Egyptian State TV)


Wafa' said...

It's tough seeing an old man in this situation, but this is not an ordinary old man , this is a dictator who did no good to the people of his country. The idea that people were killed in the Egyptian revolution was enough to hold him accountable for that, after all he was the man in the higher position and those should always be held accountable even if they didn't held the gun themselves.
The whole being brought on hospital bed was not a good image at all, but who knows what are the reasons behind that? i mean did he insist on attending this way? can they avoided such scenes by bringing him on a wheelchair for example?

The only person i felt sorry for in the whole court were the judge with so many people speaking and insisting on saying the same thing over and over again. no wonder it's a tough job :)

Let's hope that the rest of the presidents and kings will take a lesson from today's images, but human being usually learn from their OWN mistakes sadly.

Susanne said...

I remember when I was cheering for the ouster of Mubarak earlier this year. But - oh my word! - I must be going soft or something because when I saw a picture of him in the bed, I felt pity. :-/ Maybe that's why he did it? If so, argh!

But if not, I can't help but think that my sweet grandfather is about that age and I just can't imagine Pop being brought to trial in his current condition. Granted Pop never brutally oppressed any people under him either so there's that crucial difference.

I couldn't help but think of how Scotland let that Libyan guy return home "to die" (yet he was recently at a pro-Gaddafi rally), yet here is an old man having to stand (or lie down for it) trial. I wonder if Mubarak were tried in liberal Europe if they'd have given him a pass on old-age humanitarian grounds.

And what's up with Egypt these days anyway? I guess they are still waiting for their elections.

Thanks for sharing this post. I think the image of Mubarak was the first thing newsworthy that I saw online this morning. Maybe I'm "softer" in the morning...then again, I scolded Andrew for dripping tomato juice on the kitchen floor so maybe not ...


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

I admire the Egyptians for bringing this criminal leader to court.

It is past time for the United States, which claims a long tradition of the rule of law, to bring its own political criminals of the Bush Administration to court to face crimes of torture and war crimes.

Wendy said...

I agree with 'tossing pebbles'.

Majed said...

When I saw Mubarak lying rather than standing for the trial,I said to myself this man really knows how to play with the cards available in his quiver, at least he got me, I really felt sorry for him.

Augusto Pinochet,Husni Mubarak or Qaddafi, there is one good Arabic saying that applies to them "only when a camel falls everyone come their knives" but my motto is never to disrespect a dead body now he is but a dead body,they could not utter a word against him when he was strong,it is a shame to tear him into pieces when he is in such a helpless situation.

But part of me is very happy to see him in this miserable situation,it just a little bit lightens the bitterness I felt when he helped rallying forces against Iraq and did nothing while Iraqis were butchered like cattle,and were starved as if they belonged not to one great extended nation and when he watched God bless his soul Saddam being sacrificed like ram on one of Muslims 's festivals.

I don't know why the Egyptians following the media dictates and only trying him for only for his latest crimes against a couple of hundred killed,what about all those crime he committed against all Arabs and their honor that he sold, when has been brokering to the Zionists and the Americans their crucial issues as if he was pimping cheap prostitutes,if they ever wanted to lead the Arab nation, they must try him for those crimes first, only then can we find out his accomplices in reasons against the Arab nation,and only then will all Arab start looking to Egypt as if it was the torch that lights their way to glory.

What is going on now (trial) is just selfishness and monkey show.

Anonymous said...

My goodness, I didn’t know that you have your own blog, I accidently stumbled into it this morning. I really enjoyed your thought provoking and witty responses in other blogs for sometimes. Anyway back to Mubarak, while the man certainly committed many grave mistakes, it still sad to see an Arab leader, a hero of the 1973 war, laying on a stretcher in that court room and behind a cage. The question is why did they have to wheel him in on a stretcher, why could not they just use a wheelchair, and was the cage really necessary?! You see mass murderers on trials in the US wearing their best suit and certainly not behind cages. I’m all for putting the Ex-president on trial, but provide him with some basic human dignity.


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