CAIRO -- An Egyptian criminal court Wednesday acquitted 26 loyalists of deposed President Hosni Mubarak of charges of plotting the notorious attack in which camels and horses charged hundreds of protesters in Tahrir Square during last year's uprising.
Twenty four of the accused were members of Mubarak’s National Democratic Party, including businessmen, government officials and the speaker of the former parliament. The attack, which played out on television and stunned the world with medieval-like spectacle, marked one of the bloodiest days of the revolt.
The defendants were found not guilty of manslaughter, according to Egypt's state-run news agency. The attack, which became known as the Camel Battle, was regarded by many as Mubarak's last desperate attempt to cling to power before the 18-day uprising forced him to resign in February 2011.
Human rights advocates and protesters who participated in the uprising were outraged by the verdict. Many said it was an expected yet disappointing blow to justice.
"The trial failed to find those responsible or reveal the truth on what is a defining episode of the uprising," said Mohamed Lotfy, a researcher with Amnesty International.
The decision comes amid public discontent as many Egyptians feel that justice has not yet been served for those who died in anti-government protests before and after the uprising. That sentiment is putting increasing pressure on new President Mohamed Morsi.
"They weren't even found guilty of plotting the attack. Many of these government officials and party members were responsible for decision-making during the attack, they should be held responsible,” said Heba Mahfouz, an activist. “If they can't find legal evidence against these people, then they should be responsible to find who committed these crimes resulting in the deaths of hundreds of protesters."
-- Reem Abdellatif
Photo: In this file photo from Feb. 2, 2011, Egyptian government supporters, some riding camels and horses and armed with sticks, clash with demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square. Credit: Ben Curtis / Associated Press