Sunday, August 7, 2011

Mubarak & sons 'face the wrath of the nation'

Mubarak & sons face the wrath of the nation


Robert Fisk: Once untouchable, the old despot and his sons

faced the wrath of the nation they had terrorised

This was a moment when a country proved not only that its

revolution was real, but that its victims were real


Thursday, 4 August


Just when the Arab dictators desperately need to drink the

secure, cool waters of an Arab summer, along came the

Egyptians yesterday to poison the well. Deep into its

depths, those dictators could see a flickering enmeshed

face, fragile, fingers playing over its nose and mouth,

the arm of a man on a stretcher raised to prevent the

light getting too close but - for just a few brief moments

- with the same old arrogant eyes. Then the heavy black

mike appeared in the man's left hand. "I am here, your

honour," said a chillingly strong voice. "I have not

committed any such crimes."


Yes, the Egyptians really did put their wretched, ancient

dictator on trial yesterday, along with his effete, sullen

sons - both dressed in white as if heading for yet another

summer tennis party, an illusion broken only by the green

Koran under Alaa Mubarak's arm. An encouragement to his

dessicated, 83-year-old father, Hosni? Or an insult to the



The lawyers screamed their clients' pain; of torture, of

snipers, of the murder of Egypt's own people in the

January-February uprising, of the brutality of the

security forces, of corruption on a Mafia scale. And to

whom else did these terrible charges apply? We thought

about Damascus, of course. And Tripoli. And the Bahraini

capital of Manama. And of Rabat and Amman and Algiers and



And across the vast, arid wastelands of the Arab despots,

the government televisions continued to show game shows

and cooking classes and domestic dramas and friendly

crowds, all of whom loved their presidents and kings and

potentates, who could never - could they? - be accused of

these awful crimes. Outside Egypt itself, the only live

coverage of the trial was broadcast by post-revolutionary

Tunisia and that nemesis of the Mubarak regime and of the

United States and of Israel: the Hezbollah's Al-Manar



"Are you Mohamed Hosni Sayed Mubarak?" asked Judge Ahmed

Refaat. Or Bachar al-Assad? Or Muammar Gaddafi? Or His

Majesty King Hamad? Or even His Highness King Abdullah,

Guardian of the Three Holy Places in a place called Saudi



For history - Arab history and western history and world

history - will place the scenes in the Egyptian Police

Academy yesterday in whole chapters, footnoted and

referenced, the moment when a country proved not only that

its revolution was real, but that its victims were real,

its dictators' corruption detailed down to the last

Egyptian pound and the last fake company title, its

people's suffering forensically described.


Despite its flaws, this was not summary justice, the kind

so beloved of the Assad family and the Gaddafi family or,

indeed, the Mubarak family. The Caliph had been brought

low - and the "Arab Spring" (ever a dodgy item right now,

with the butchery in Syria and the trumpery of the Libyan

war) revived. Even when the helicopter bringing the old

boy to justice appeared in the pale, hot skies over the

desert, we shook our heads for just a moment. All true.


Can the infection yet be stopped, the poisoned waters

cleansed? The Egyptians didn't think so. If this was a

"bon-bon", a toffee or two to humour the masses from

Egypt's Supreme Military Command - which had promised this

trial all along to the yawning scepticism of the Arab

world - it promised by close of play to be a much more

serious affair. Defence and prosecuting lawyers shrieked

their demands, Mubarak's men to draw out the trial for

weeks, months, years, for thousands more pages of evidence

(5,000 against Mubarak alone), for subpoenas of all the

other men around the sundered president.


The names of all kinds of intriguing personalities in the

state security apparatus, the "Security Directorate" of

Cairo, of the "Police Security" of Giza - of generals

Ali-Shadli and Ali Magi and Maher Mohamed and Mustafa

Tawfiq and Brigadier Reza Masir, along with generals

Hassan Hassan and Fouad Tawfiq and Yahyia al-Iraqi,

Abdul-Aziz Salem, Brigadier Rifaat Radwan and Brigadier

Hani Neguid and Lieutenant Colonel Ahmed Attallah, Colonel

Ayman al-Saidi - crept into the proceedings, all innocent

to a man of course, but hitherto part of the secret state

whose work was always anonymous, institutions which lived

in gentle darkness.


And then the lawyers for "civil rights claimants" - the

lawyers for the families of the dead and wounded - shouted

out the names of the victims. They walked and were shot

down again in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria and

Giza, real people who died in astonishment and pain as

Mubarak's thugs took aim at them. There were also, I have

to say, some dark moments.


For outside the court, minutes before the start of

proceedings, I found lawyers like Mamdouh al-Taf, who said

that he had been cleared to represent civil victims by the

Ministry of Justice but who had seen with his own eyes, he

said, how his name on the court list had just been deleted

by the Ministry of Interior.


There was the father of Hossam Fathi Mohamed Ibrahim,

"martyr at Sehir Square in Alexandria", 18 years old but

younger, in a red pullover in the picture his father held

in his hand. "Why can't he be represented by his lawyer in

this court?" he asked me. No wonder the first questions

shouted at Judge Refaat came from the men and women

representing the civilian dead and wounded. "Why are there

more lawyers representing the defendants in this court

than there are representing the victims?" a female lawyer

demanded to know. Good point.


Poor old ex-interior minister Habib al-Adli, blue-suited

and ignored by Gamal and Alaa Mubarak - who sometimes

appeared to be deliberately standing in the way of the

Egyptian cameras so that their father was censored from

the frame - hovered on his side of the cage to receive yet

more charges of corruption and violence. He has already

received a sentence of 12 years and, in his drab blue

uniform - a contrast to the virginal white of the Mubaraks

(Hosni kept clutching a white sheet around his throat) -

appeared a pathetic figure behind the iron bars and wire

mesh of the court prison cage. Long ago, I asked him for

an interview to discuss his business affairs - and was

told I would be arrested if I asked again.


"I deny everything," declared Alaa. "I deny all the

charges," announced Gamal. There was even a demand to

subpoena Field Marshal Mohamed Tantawi, the military ruler

of present-day Egypt (and old pal of Mubarak) to court.

Now this was surely taking things too far. From Damascus

and Amman and Rabat and Manama and Riyadh, of course,

there was silence. And, strange to say, not a word from

Washington, whose old chum Hosni now faces (in theory) a

death sentence. Perhaps Foggy Bottom also has its poisoned



The accused...


1. Hosni Mubarak


The former president is accused of conspiring in the

premeditated murder and the attempted murder of

protesters. Accused of corruption in accepting gifts to

facilitate a land deal, and in relation to a natural-gas

export deal.


2. Gamal Mubarak


A senior party figure with an eye on the presidency, Gamal

is charged along with his father with land-deal

corruption. It is claimed they accepted five villas worth

$7m from a businessman and in return sweetened a

real-estate deal in the resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.


3. Alaa Mubarak


Better liked by the public and said to have attempted to

moderate his brother Gamal's instincts, Alaa is also

included in the corruption charge.


4. Habib al-Adly


Hosni Mubarak's security chief and former interior

minister, he is also included in the accusations of murder

and attempted murder during the Egyptian uprising.


Six other senior policeman face the same charges.



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