Life in jail for Mubarak, but acquittal for most | World| Breakings news and perspectives from around the globe | DW | 02.06.2012
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Life in jail for Mubarak, but acquittal for most

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt's former president, was sentenced to life behind bars. But many revolutionaries view the verdict as a slap in the face. The policemen who killed protesters were acquitted.

Upon hearing Mubarak's sentence, Hazin Gomar fell to his knees and cried, "Allahu Akbar!" - God is great. He bent his head toward the ground to kiss a photo of his son, Hussein, who was shot and killed by a policeman during the revolution on January 28, 2011.

Since Hussein's death, his father has sought justice. And the moment in which ex-president was sentenced to jail came close. Hazin Gomar broke into tears.

"It's the happiest day in my life - God is great, God is great," he cried.


Acquittal for killers

84-year-old Mubarak hears his verdict in court

Hosni Mubarak initially showed little emotion upon hearing the verdict

But there was uproar among revolutionaries once news spread that all other parties accused of perpetrating the bloodbath against protesters were acquitted. Among those facing no punishment are six assistants to the former interior minister Habib el-Abi. Three of those assistants head police stations in Cairo.

No one faces conviction for killing demonstrators one and a half years ago in Egypt, and Mubarak and el-Adli were convicted solely on the grounds that they did not stop the assaults.

Many see it as a slap in the face to the families of protesters as well as a clear signal to police that if they kill demonstrators, nothing will happen. That could encourage police officers to use violence during future protests. Abdel Mannam Abdel Maksut, a lawyer for the Muslim Brotherhood and a joint plaintiff in the case, is disappointed.

"The trial wasn't conducted in a fair way, and the result against Mubarak and el-Aldi is a political calculation," he said.


Military council hoping for quiet

The military council is hoping to quiet the situation on the streets with this verdict by suggesting to Egyptian residents that their revolution achieved something. Judge Ahmed Refaat took a similar posture when delivering Mubarak's verdict. He praised the revolution, spoke of a dawn after 30 years of darkness under Mubarak. In state media television and radio broadcasts, it is only being announced that Mubarak was sentenced - and nothing of the acquittals.

A protester holds a rope and a balance in front of security forces next to the court house at the police academy in Cairo where former president Mubarak was tried

Protesters had hoped for a death sentence for Mubarak

Mubarak and his two sons also faced corruption charges, for which they were not pronounced guilty on the grounds that the charges fell under the statute of limitations.

Mubarak's followers were upset with the outcome as well. They include Kariman el-Sherif, a woman waiting for the verdict with a Mubarak amulet around her neck and a sign bearing the former president's image. She still refers to him as the president of Egypt, sometimes even as a father.

"Our country will go downhill without the president," she said. "The verdict cannot be just."

Tears from Mubarak

Presidential candidate and former prime minister Ahmed Shafik

Ahmed Shafik hopes to profit from the verdict against Mubarak

The former president also balked at the verdict. After he was flown from the court to Tora prison, he refused to exit the helicopter and cried, a security official said. The official added that Mubarak's health has further declined, and he must be treated. The ex-leader's lawyer as well as some of the plaintiffs have already announced they will appeal the decision.

The verdict in Cairo comes at a politically sensitive moment in Egypt. In two weeks, the country goes to the polls in a run-off vote to elect a new president, choosing between Modhammed Mursi, the Muslim Brotherhood's candidate, and Ahmed Shafiq, formerly prime minister under Mubarak. Shafiq could stand to profit from the court's ruling.

"It's a lesson for every future president," he wrote Saturday on social networking website Twitter.

Shafiq has to hope that liberal voters - likely to be a decisive force in the election - who are afraid of the Muslim Brotherhood will vote for him in the belief that Egyptian presidents will be held accountable.
Protests on Tahrir Square

But Hazin Gomar, father of Hussein who died in the revolution, is now more angry than ever.

"If I had a gun, I'd take care of things myself," he said. "How can my soul, or my son's soul, rest as long as there is no justice? Why are the murderers free?"

Along with other revolutionaries, he says he is now out to convince Egyptians that the rendering of Mubarak's sentence does not represent a historic moment. It is the first time that a president in the Arab world has stood trial since Saddam Hussein was sentenced to death. However, only the head of the regime is being punished. And in the hope that the next leader will not be drawn from Mubarak's inner circle, Hazin Gomar is returning to Tahrir Square immediately to protest.

Author: Viktoria Kleber / gsw
Editor: Gregg Benzow

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