Human Rights Foundation (HRF) condemns the March 2, 2017, decision by Egypt’s highest court acquitting former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak of complicity in the killing of 239 protesters during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. The 18-day uprising ended the former leader’s three decades of dictatorial rule and left at least 840 people dead. “It is outrageous to see a despot like Mubarak go free, while many that demonstrated peacefully against his autocratic rule still languish behind bars,” said Thor Halvorssen, president of HRF. “This ruling is a severe blow to the prodemocracy spirit that sparked the 2011 revolution and inspired millions of Egyptians to oust a dictator,” added Halvorssen.
Since taking office in 2014, current President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has worked to undermine democratic institutions in Egypt, including the judiciary. The recent ruling indicates that El-Sisi is influencing Egyptian courts and intends to set a precedent for military impunity. Mubarak has faced numerous criminal charges since he was ousted, but has only been convicted in one case.
In 2012, Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to murder 239 demonstrators. Mubarak was found guilty of "providing vehicles and weapons to security forces" and of "failing to take action to prevent the protesters’ deaths." However, in 2013, Egypt’s highest court, the Court of Cassation, overturned Mubarak’s 2012 conviction and ordered a retrial that resulted in the acquittal of Mubarak and his former senior officials by a lower court.
In 2015, a court of appeal reopened the case based on a request by the prosecution and ordered a second retrial of Mubarak’s case. The Court of Cassation’s decision to free Mubarak was the final ruling in the case. The decision not only declares Mubarak’s innocence, but prevents the fallen protesters’ families from filing civil lawsuits.
The final verdict in Mubarak’s case came a few days after Egypt’s parliament expelled one of its few dissenting lawmakers, Mohamed Anwar al-Sadat, who some believed was preparing to run for president in 2018. Al-Sadat, who was the chair of the House of Representatives Committee on Human Rights until his resignation in August 2016, is an outspoken critic of Egypt’s dismal human rights record.
“El-Sisi’s authoritarian regime carries over the repression and despotism of the Mubarak era. The government’s decisions to expel an opposition politician and to acquit Mubarak of all charges set the tone for a presidential election in 2018,” said Halvorssen. “El-Sisi is making it clear that he will crush any meaningful opposition to his rule, without risking future criminal prosecution,” he added.
Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.
TAKE ACTION and CONTACT the Egyptian officials listed below to: Condemn the Court of Cassation’s acquittal of Hosni Mubarak and denial of victims’ families recourse to civil lawsuits; and Condemn the Egyptian parliament’s decision to expel al-Sadat.