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Victims of 2011 violence snub Mubarak trial

To many of those hurt in Egypt uprising, trial of former president causes frustration, not catharsis.

Last Modified: 26 Aug 2013 15:35
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Mubarak is on trial for complicity in the killings of protesters during the uprising that toppled him [Getty]

"Tamer", a 48-year-old bus driver who lost both his eyes to birdshot bullets during the 2011 protests that toppled Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, said he had "long given up on justice".

On Sunday, Mubarak appeared in court in Cairo - wearing sunglasses, with a smoothly shaven beard and black-dyed hair - for a retrial on charges of complicity in the killings of more than 800 protesters during the uprising. Dressed in white, Mubarak sat on his hospital bed in the courtroom, and exchanged occasional remarks with his sons, Alaa and Gamal, who face the same charges.

One might think that Mubarak's retrial would offer those who were injured or lost loved ones in the protests a sense of justice.

But for Tamer, who asked that his real name not be used for his safety, the trial is a "farce".

"The same corrupt faces, who ran into their holes right after Mubarak was removed, now feel safe enough to be all over television channels like nothing has happened. I know the evidence [presented] against Mubarak was weak from the beginning, but I had hope. Now, it's just ridiculous."

Tamer wasn't alone in his feelings: To many of the families of those who died and the thousands injured by security forces' attempts to quell the rallies, the trial is a source of frustration, not catharsis.

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Um Ahmed, whose 23-year-old son was among those killed, said she had hoped for a harsh penalty for Mubarak, but now believes that is unlikely. Um Ahmed, who also asked that her real name not be used, explained that the pain of losing her son was initially tempered by the thought that his death, and those of others in the protests, would "bring about the change that millions of Egyptians had sought". Instead, she says, the trial is renewing the pain of her loss.

In 2012, in what was dubbed as "Trial of the Century", Mubarak and his longtime aide, former interior minister Habib el-Adly, were sentenced to life in prison for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the revolt. But their request to appeal was accepted, raising fears that insufficient evidence against the defendants may lead to a lighter sentence, if not acquittals.

Mubarak was released on Thursday upon judges' orders after spending more than two years in custody, the maximum period allowed under the Egyptian law for pre-detention arrest. He will be kept under house arrest in an upscale military hospital in Cairo's Maadi suburb, and will commute to trial in military helicopters.

As state-run television channels aired the court session, a logo on the top of the screen read "Egypt Fights Terrorism", while the news bar below carried reports of fresh arrests targeting leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group from whose ranks came Mubarak's successor, ousted president Mohamed Morsi.

Several of the defendants' lawyers sought to blame the Muslim Brotherhood, who were slow to officially join the 2011 revolt, for the violence and bloodshed that took place then.

Some relatives of those killed in 2011 found this argument convincing. "The violence ignited by the Brotherhood in the past few weeks and months is very similar to what we witnessed back in 2011," said Majda Mohamed Mursi, the mother of Tarek Magdy, who was killed during the 18-day revolt.

"The snipers and the breaking in to police stations were all repeated again following Morsi's ouster. We had primarily thought it was done by security forces, but the repetition is enough evidence that it was the Brotherhood all along."

Yet Randa Sami, a physician who during the protests suffered a spinal injury after being hit by birdshot bullets while handling patients in a makeshift hospital, disagreed. "I was never a Brotherhood supporter," she said, "but it's obvious that they will try to stick all crimes to them".

Sami said that weak evidence was presented against Mubarak tying him to the 2011 killings, and predicted that as a result, recent violent acts allegedly committed by the Muslim Brotherhood may make it easier for Mubarak's lawyers to pin the blame on them.

"I don't want anyone else but Mubarak and el-Adly to face punishments for what was done to me," she declared. "Morsi and his clan should be penalised for their wrongdoings, but when it comes to the 2011 murders and casualties, justice is to hold Mubarak and his gang accountable."

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Al Jazeera
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