Inside Story

Is Egypt's judicial system on trial?

As the world watches the legal proceedings against Mubarak and Morsi, we ask if their trials will be transparent or not.

Last Modified: 26 Aug 2013 10:16
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Facing charges over the deaths of civilians in Egypt, former President Hosni Mubarak is back in court.

And legal proceedings have also begun against leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, while deposed president Mohamed Morsi stands accused of murder.

The high-profile cases are taking place against a backdrop of continued tension and political turmoil - and placing Egypt's judicial system under the spotlight.

Mubarak is being re-tried for ordering the killing of demonstrators during the uprising that forced him from office.

And three leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood, including the movement's General Guide Mohamed Badie, have been charged with inciting the murder of protesters.

… one must keep in mind that over the past few years there have been several high-profile cases where assumptions were made about the political leanings of a judge, one way or another, and then surprises took place, so it is very difficult to predict how this is going to go.

H. A. Hellyer, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution's foreign policy section

These are the first proceedings against them since President Mohamed Morsi was deposed on July 3.

They are accused of inciting the murder and attempted murder of protesters, who stormed and torched the Brotherhood's headquarters on June 30, when nine people were killed and another 91 were wounded. That trial was adjourned on Sunday until October 29.

Meanwhile, Morsi himself is facing a variety of spying and jailbreak charges. He is accused by prosecutors of participating in the murder of civilians.

Just last year, it was Mubarak who was found guilty of failing to stop the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising - he was sentenced to life in prison.

But an appeal was filed and a retrial ordered - Mubarak appeared in court on Sunday for that retrial.

He is also facing separate charges over corruption cases. He is accused of accepting $11m worth of gifts, including jewelry and watches, from a state-run newspaper.

The former president is also accused of embezzling money from presidential funds, and making illicit gains during his presidency.

Mubarak's first trial was criticised by the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights, as flawed and disappointing, and the rights group said the re-trial must avoid what it called the "grave mistakes" of the first.

"Statements by more than 1,300 witnesses were disregarded at the original trial. Medical reports, video footage and evidence of weapons and live ammunition were ignored," the group says, "all of which,  indicated police involvement in the killing of demonstrators."

So with the world watching all these legal proceedings, is Egypt's judicial system also on trial? And will these trials be held with transparency and without political interference? 

To discuss this, Inside Story with presenter Shihab Rattansi, is joined by guests: H. A. Hellyer, a non-resident fellow at the Brookings Institution's foreign policy section; and Saad Djebbar, an international lawyer and political analyst.     

" I have no faith in the judiciary and the military rule … let me see how many people, how many individuals, will dare to launch a complaint against  [General] Sisi … according to military law [General] Sisi has committed high treason and he should be executed. He has betrayed the constitution and every law in Egypt and that's why we should take the matter further … "

-Saad Djebbar, an international lawyer and political analyst     


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