CAIRO: Prosecutors have called for Hosni Mubarak to be hanged, saying he bears full responsibility for the killing of protesters during the uprising against him, in a courtroom moment unthinkable only a year ago when Egypt’s long-time leader held unquestioned power.
The demand for the death penalty at the 83-year-old former president’s trial played to the widespread resentment of Mubarak among Egyptians who hoped that punishment for his oppressive rule would be fruit of the Arab Spring.
On Thursday, prosecutor Mustafa Khater gave a passionate speech demanding the death penalty for Mubarak, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and four of the police commanders. They are charged with complicity in the deaths of some 800 protesters during the 18-day uprising that led to Mubarak’s fall on Feb. 11.
For separate corruption charges levelled against Mubarak, his sons Alaa and Gamal and a close family friend on the run, Khater demanded unspecified prison sentences with hard labour. Two police commanders charged with gross negligence face prison terms.
Chief prosecutor Mustafa Suleiman said earlier in Thursday’s session that Mubarak was “politically and legally” responsible for the killing of the protesters. He charged that Mubarak was aware from meetings with aides, regional TV channels and reports by his security agencies that the killings were taking place but did nothing to stop them.
El-Adly authorized the use of live ammunition on orders from Mubarak, he said. “He (Mubarak) can never, as the top official, claim that he did not know what was going on,” Suleiman told the court.
Even if Mubarak is convicted and sentenced to death by Jan. 25, the former leader has a lengthy recourse to appeal that could last months, said Omar Hagag el-Shal, who represents several victims’ families in the Mubarak trial.
Even if a death sentence is upheld throughout the appeal process, the nation’s head of state — a position currently held by the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces — could veto the execution.
The nation’s ruling generals are highly unlikely to allow his execution if his sentence was upheld on their watch.
The military has said that presidential elections would be held before the end of June and that it would step down when the new head of state is sworn in. It has yet to announce dates.
Mubarak’s trial is without precedent in the Arab world and is an Arab Spring landmark.
Many Egyptians have grown exasperated with the turmoil in their nation since Mubarak’s ouster, particularly over a worsening economy and precarious security. Though some voices are against executing Mubarak, many would find satisfaction in the punishment of a man they believed ruled Egypt as if it was his personal property and planned to pass it on to his son.
Darul Ihsan Media Desk