CAIRO: Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak denied in court on Wednesday ordering the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his 30-year rule.
Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for complicity in the deaths of demonstrators and the breakdown of law and order during the 18-day revolt, but an appeals court subsequently ordered a retrial. He was freed on those charges but is serving a separate three-year sentence for embezzlement at a military hospital in the upscale Maadi district of Cairo.
Mubarak, who is on trial with his sons and other senior officials, also denied the corruption charges and said he had faithfully served his country for 62 years, first as a military officer and later as president. “Hosni Mubarak, who is before you today, did not order at all the killing of protesters or the shedding of the blood of Egyptians,” he told the court room, reading from a prepared statement. “And I did not issue an order to cause chaos and I did not issue an order to create a security vacuum.”
Many Egyptians who lived through three decades of autocracy and crony capitalism under Mubarak considered it a victory to see him and his allies behind bars. But since the ouster of freely elected Islamist President Mohamed Mursi last year by then-army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, some Mubarak-era allies have been freed, raising concern among activists that the old regime was regaining influence.
Sisi, who went on to win a presidential election, vowed that Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood would cease to exist under his rule. Hundreds of Islamists have been killed and thousands have been arrested in the past year, many of them sentenced to death in mass trials that have drawn condemnation from Western governments and human rights groups.
At the same time, some of the leading figures of the 2011 revolution have found themselves on the wrong side of Egypt’s new rulers, serving long sentences for taking part in small and non-violent demonstrations after the government issued a law banning protests without permission. The judge said the verdict in Mubarak’s case is scheduled to be issued on Sept. 27. HRW acknowledged that protesters threw rocks and petrol bombs at security forces and a few opened fire. That failed to justify the level of force deployed by the state, it said. “Given the widespread and systematic nature of these killings, and the evidence suggesting that they were part of a policy to use lethal force against largely unarmed protesters on political grounds, these killings most likely amount to crimes against humanity,” the report said.
It urged governments to suspend military aid to Cairo until it takes steps to end serious rights violations, potentially putting pressure on Western allies who have voiced concern about Sisi’s democratic credentials but continue to provide military and other support to Cairo. “We showed the manner in which these (weapons) have been unlawfully used against citizens,” HRW Middle East and North Africa Director Sarah Leah Whitson told a video conference.
The report called on the U.N. Human Rights Council to establish an international commission of inquiry to investigate “the mass killings of demonstrators since June 30, 2013”.”Criminal charges should also be brought against those implicated in these acts, including in courts that apply the principle of universal jurisdiction,” it said. There was “every reason to believe” that “a security force that can get away with crimes of humanity” would do so again, Roth said in a videoconference at the report’s release. The report calls Sisi a “principal architect” of the violence, sitting at the top of the army’s chain of command.
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