Egypt’s public prosecutor refers former president and two sons to stand trial in a criminal court.
|Protesters wait at the Cairo court where Egypt’s former interior minister was set to be tried [Reuters]|
A Cairo court has decided to merge the trials of former President Hosni Mubarak and ex-Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, both accused of killing protesters during an uprising that toppled the regime.
The announcement came on Monday as Egypt’s cabinet made a pledge to clear out officials who held senior posts in the Mubarak era, continue with public corruption trials and press on with other reforms to placate protesters who have turned their anger on the ruling military.
Also on Monday, former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif was charged in a corruption case by military prosecutors, in the first case of a former regime official facing military justice. Nazif was charged and ordered detained for 15 days for squandering public money and seizing state-owned land, the official MENA news agency reported.
In the postponed Adly case, a judge said the former interior minister and his six deputies would be tried on August 3, together with Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal, and businessman Hussein Salem who is currently abroad, the AFP news agency reported.
Adly, who has already been sentenced to 12 years for corruption, appeared in the dock in the first of his trials to be shown on state television.
‘A lot of anger’
Hundreds of protesters, including families of victims who died during the revolt, turned out for the trial of the once-feared minister, throwing stones at the convoy of vans driving him away.
As Al Jazeera’s Sherine Tadros reported from the court in Cairo: “There was a lot of anger there. However, the fact that this was a televised trial has gone a long way to pacify some of the people who feel that these trials have gone on behind closed doors. They haven’t felt that [the trials] have been very transparent.”
She added that for many Egyptians who have lived for decades under a judicial system that was “far from transparent”, justice must be “seen to be believed”.
“And that is what happened at this court case today. It was broadcast to millions of Egyptians, and certainly they will be happy to see Habib al-Adly inside that court room for the first time.”
Several former ministers, officials and businessmen associated with the old regime are currently on trial, after the ruling military vowed it would bring to justice all those found guilty of abuse.
But the process has been slammed as slow and activists have been pushing for public trials.
Protesters who took to the streets to demand Mubarak’s resignation have increasingly turned their anger toward the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) which took power when Mubarak was toppled in February.
They have accused the military council of stifling dissent and slowing down the pace of reform. Hundreds of protesters were still camped out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and vowed to continue pushing for change.
Protesters also tried to march on the defence ministry on Saturday, accusing the ruling generals of foot-dragging over reforms and in holding ex-officials to account. They were blocked by military police lines and stone-throwing youths, leaving more than 300 protesters injured.
Cabinet promises change
The clashes came hours after Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, the head of SCAF and Mubarak’s long-time defence minister, pledged in a television address to work for a free system through fair elections and a constitution.
But the military rulers had also accused the April 6 movement, which helped launch the January 25 uprising, of “driving a wedge between the people and the army”.
To quell similar divisions, the cabinet committee charged with crisis management said in a statement on Monday it would “cast out all the ranks of the former regime from positions of responsibility in all state agencies as fast as possible”.
It also stressed “the principle of public trials for all symbols of former regime and the former president and calling on the court responsible to announce the procedures his trial and its location and revealing his real health condition”.
It also made other pledges, such as setting a maximum wage for the higher paid officials within a month and referring new cases to trial more quickly.