THE BLOG
08/16/2011 06:25 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mubarak Appears in Court Again

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Ramadan Farag took an early morning train from Alexandria to Cairo to attend the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

This was Mubarak's, along with his two sons, second court appearance. Mubarak faces charges of corruption and complicity in killing protesters. His sons, Alaa and Gamal, face corruption charges.

Farag, who lost his 16 year-old son Mohammed during the 18-day protests, was assured by the authorities he would be allowed inside the courtroom this time around.

Farag submitted all the required documents, but when he got there his name was not on the list.

"I have a right to see justice first hand. This is not fair," he said while standing in the burning sun in front of a large screen broadcasting the trial outside the courthouse. At least one other father of the over 800 killed during the protests had the same experience. Both men said there were many more in their shoes.

In a way the disorganization and ineffectiveness the two fathers faced are a general trademark of the trial. Lawyers inside the courtroom were fighting with each other, while pro and anti Mubarak crowds clashed outside.

It must be one of the reasons why presiding judge Ahmed Refaat announced after a long recess that he will not allow the live broadcast of the trial anymore, citing "public interest" as the reason.

Will We See Mubarak in Court Again?

The meaning of the decision to ban the trial's live broadcast is still unclear. Will the trial be filmed and aired later? Are photographs allowed? Will we hear Mubarak responding to questions?

"Since I am not allowed inside, my only chance to see what is going on was through the live broadcast, now I won't be able to watch anything," said Farag, the father of the teenager who was killed during the protests.

He admits however that stopping the broadcast might put an end to the chaos amongst lawyers "who want to show off" inside the courtroom.

The decision, while welcomed by some, might add to the skepticism about the seriousness of the trial. Some here believe the spectacle of the 83 year-old former president on a stretcher inside a cage is merely to placate the people.

"I am not happy with the court... they keep postponing the case," said Saedeya Said, one of those participating in the anti-Mubarak protest outside the court. "I don't feel there is a real trial."
Today, the judge postponed the case till Sept. 5 and combined it with that of former interior minister Habib El Adly.

Rock-Throwing Outside the Court

When I first got to the police academy, where the trial was taking place, I was impressed with the security preparations. The few hundred pro and anti Mubarak protesters were placed in designated areas and well separated.

It was too good to be true. Soon enough clashes broke out. Under the eyes of the security forces, both camps collected rocks and put them in piles in preparation for a confrontation. Sure enough, about an hour later, the two groups started attacking each other with the rocks. Although they outnumbered them, the state security soldiers were often unable to control them. The health ministry reported that 23 people were injured.

Military Trials for Civilians, Civil Trial for Mubarak

Interesting enough, at the same time that Mubarak and his sons were in court, a military court was examining the cases of a number of civilians, including 26 year-old activist Asmaa Mahfouz, who was charged with inciting violence against the armed forces and insulting it in posts on social network sites.

According to Amnesty International, Mahfouz wrote "If the justice system does not give us our rights, nobody should be upset if armed groups emerge and carry out assassinations." The group demanded that the authorities drop charges. Its director for Middle East and North Africa, Malcolm Smart, said the decision "seems intended to send a message to those critical of the authorities that dissent will not be tolerated"

Mahfouz is not alone. Rights groups estimate that ten thousand civilians faced military trials since the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF). One blogger, Michael Nabil, was sentenced to three years for criticizing the army.

"It feels like I have a heart problem and they are giving me pain killers. I want them to open me up and go ahead with the surgery," says Farag describing how he feels about the current situation. "I think this applies to the whole population."