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EGYPT: Uproar over antics of victims' lawyers at Mubarak trial

August 4, 2011 | 10:52 am

Legal experts and citizens alike were concerned as well as bemused by the chaotic and unorganized antics of lawyers representing families of martyrs during former President Hosni Mubarak’s trial on charges that he ordered the shooting of protesters last winter.

The 30 or so lawyers representing families made a spectacle Wednesday, racing each other to address the court’s judge while showing a lack of eloquence and jurisprudence during the nationally televised hearing. They at times resembled a scrum on a rugby field. So much so that many Egyptians believed that Mubarak's veteran defense lawyer, Farid el Deeb, stood out as more polished and erudite.

One lawyer yelled that Mubarak was a serial killer. Another grabbed a microphone and claimed that Mubarak, who had been wheeled into the courtroom in a hospital bed, was not Mubarak at all. The lawyer said Mubarak died in 2004 and that the man on trial was an imposter in an elaborate scheme by outside forces.  

“The main problem is that the hearing was attended by many victims’ lawyers, who don’t have the necessary experience to deal with such case. If this issue isn’t rectified before the second hearing then this will hinder any chances of indicting Mubarak,” said Tarek Awady, a lawyer in the Egyptian Appeals Court, told Babylon & Beyond.

Essam Sultan, a lawyer and deputy head of Al Wasat Party, described the performance of lawyers calling for victims’ civil rights on Wednesday as shameful. Councilor Zakariya Abdul Aziz, former head of Egypt’s judges’ union, said that there had been no coordination among the attorneys.

Awady said that a group of prominent lawyers is attempting to take over the cases of victims' families from some of their inexperienced and grandstanding colleagues. “This is the biggest trial in Egypt’s history, and the whole country will be depressed and lose confidence if we can’t indict Mubarak through lawyers who know how to parse all evidence and prove his guilt,” Awady said. 

Mubarak, whose visit to court was his first public appearance since his ouster Feb. 11, is charged with conspiring with former Interior Minister Habib Adli to kill protesters during the Jan. 25 revolution. He also faces allegations of financial corruption and abuse of power. He pleaded not guilty.

Meanwhile, Abdul Aziz disputed Mubarak's right to attend the hearing while lying in bed, saying that Mubarak looked in good enough health to have been able to sit on a wheelchair. Mubarak reportedly has heart problems, but many believed his bed scene was an attempt to gain pity and avoid prison.

Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, who appeared next to him in court, are charged with illegal gains and using their father's power to benefit themselves. Their trial was adjourned until Aug. 15.


Mubarak: Avoiding 'victor's justice' in Egypt

Egypt mesmerized by Mubarak appearance in court

Egypt puts Mubarak, bedridden and caged, on trial

-- Amro Hassan in Cairo

Photo: Hosni Mubarak speaking from his bed in the defendants' cage in a Cairo courtroom. Credit: Associated Press