Mubarak was convicted in 2012 for the deaths of protesters, but was given a new trial
The former president ruled Egypt for almost 30 years before resigning amid protests
On Saturday, former president cleared of causing deaths of protesters
Mubarak supporters and protesters on both sides say: the revolution is dead
It is the trial of the century for Egypt. Egyptians crowded around televisions, struggling to glimpse former President Honsi Mubarak in a white prisoner’s uniform when the court session began on August 3, 2011.
Despite being the fasting holy month of Ramadan, hundreds of people braved the scorching heat and inevitable thirst to bare witness to these historic proceedings on a large monitor erected by the government outside the courthouse. The world’s media was also in attendance trying to scavenge any scrap of information about the man who ruled Egypt for more than 30 years.
The police rolled Mubarak into the courtroom on a hospital gurney and despite his sons’ best efforts to shield their father, the image of a tired, sickly old man shot around the world. This was the first time we had seen the former president since handing over power on February 10, 2011.
The trial would last almost a year during which rumors constantly swirled about Mubarak’s health. Fueled by his lawyer, Mubarak always seemed to be on his deathbed. Numerous media reports also emerged of his death only later to be proven false.
They got so bad that it became an Egyptian joke: “Mubarak’s doctor visited him in the hospital and told him, ‘you have to stop dying, it isn’t good for your health.’”
During the year of his trial, Egypt would witness the dramatic rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, which would come to dominate the political scene. The organization, once heavily repressed by Mubarak, would sweep parliamentary elections garnering almost 50% of the seats. The trial’s proceeding concluded almost a month before President Elect Mohamed Morsy, from the Muslim Brotherhood, would be sworn into office.
The verdict on June 2, 2012 reflected the times. Once again the world stopped to watch what would be the fate of the first Arab leader to stand trial since the beginning of the Arab Spring.
The judge found Mubarak and co-defendants guilty on charges of failing to stop the killings of protesters. They were given life in prison, which in Egypt is 25 years. An 84-year-old Mubarak wouldn’t see the outside of a prison again.
The defendants appealed and the retrial began in January 2013. It would take more than 50 sessions to arrive at a verdict but this time Mubarak’s trial would be overshadowed by growing turmoil in the country.
Egypt’s Supreme Constitutional Court dissolved the first democratically elected parliament after declaring it unconstitutional. The Egyptian military ousted Morsy on July 3, 2013 following another popular uprising. Security forces began arresting the Muslim Brotherhood’s leadership and thousands of their followers. The following August, security forces would clear Morsy supporters from two squares in Egypt resulting in more than 1,000 people killed. Morsy now stands trial over the death of protesters as well as an array of other charges.
From the chaos emerged Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. He served as the head of military intelligence under Mubarak and was promoted by Morsy to be minister of defense. He oversaw the overthrow of Morsy and handover of power to Adly Mansour, although many believed al-Sisi remained the power behind the throne. In May of this year, Egyptians elected him president and thus the fourth recent leader of Egypt.
Today’s verdict reflects the times. Fewer people were outside the courthouse for the trial. Small bands of protesters took to the streets. Most Egyptians vented their anger online. Talking to Mubarak supporters and protesters on both sides, they did agree on one thing. They told me the revolution is dead.
But the drama isn’t over yet; the prosecution has one last appeal available.