Putting the Mubaraks on trial

Mubarak’s trial is not simply over financial crimes. It's also about political crimes that were committed over 30 years. It should extend beyond him and his family to include all members of his entourage that were involved in theft and oppression during his tenure.

The real question is who should put the ousted president on trial for political crimes. Some suggest that Mubarak be tried in an exceptional revolutionary tribunal, akin to those in Iran following the 1979 revolution. Doing so, however, would jeopardize the revolution’s most important achievement: bringing down the regime while preserving state institutions (with the goal of eventually reforming them). Holding exceptional trials for old regime figures threatens to put the Egyptian revolution in the same league as other revolutions where disagreements were soon turned into political trials over individuals' loyalty to the revolution.

Mubarak should be given an ordinary criminal trial. Judges should not rule against Mubarak on the basis of political pressure. Rather, our goal should be to establish a fair and professional judiciary that delivers verdicts on the basis of the law.

The judiciary that we strive for in our new Egypt must not be partisan or politicized. It must not rule on the basis of public opinion. This is the same judiciary that will adjudicate other cases in a democratic Egypt. If it begins by siding with the street, who can guarantee it will not one day side with the ruling party and/or president?

The first step towards prosecuting Mubarak for political crimes should therefore be to compile legal evidence against him. Asking the judiciary to punish Mubarak without any evidence is reminiscent of the Mubarak regime’s use of false charges and military tribunals against its opponents. The Mubaraks have been charged with financial corruption and evidence has been presented against them. The same must be done with regards to political crimes, such as electoral fraud, torture, ordering security forces to fire on protesters.

 Yes, Mubarak should be put on trial, but this must be done according to the law that we would like to see reign in a new Egypt.

Translated and abridged from the Arabic Edition.

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