« | Home | »

Presidents on Trial

Tags:

This morning Mohammad Morsi went on trial in the police academy on the outskirts of Cairo where Hosni Mubarak was tried two years ago. The charges against Morsi seem even more difficult to prove than those brought against his predecessor. Morsi and 14 other Muslim Brotherhood leaders are accused of inciting and abetting violence by his supporters against protesters outside the presidential palace last December, which left seven dead. (He also faces other charges, such as conspiring with Hamas.)

Mubarak was convicted of failing to protect the 800 or more people who died during the uprising against him: his trial sidestepped the question of who actually ordered and carried out the killing. Too ill, apparently, to be kept in prison, he showed up at his trial dates reclining on a hospital gurney. He wore sunglasses and an air of being above it all. His life sentence was overturned in August. He’s currently under house arrest in a military hospital; his retrial is ongoing.

The judiciary has not done itself proud since Mubarak’s overthrow. Over the last two and a half years, police officers accused of shooting protesters have been systematically acquitted. Courts have issued a number of highly politicised rulings, not least the one dissolving the new, largely Islamist parliament last year.

Muslim Brotherhood processions headed out early this morning. There were clashes on the Corniche in Alexandria and rock-throwing outside the trial in Cairo. Elsewhere in the capital, Morsi’s supporters blocked roads and bridges. For a week, the authorities have been warning of the Brotherhood’s plans to foment chaos today, and boasting of the security measures they are taking. The trial was surrounded by more than 20,000 policemen. State television has been running a montage featuring the U-turns of Brotherhood leaders (such as their promise, early on, not to field a presidential candidate at all) and the violent acts of their supporters, intercut with a flashing message: ‘So You Won’t Forget.’

The trials of the two ousted presidents have the same atmosphere of violence and farce: chants breaking out inside the courtroom, lawyers coming to blows, enraged supporters outside attacking journalists. The chaos during Mubarak’s trial seemed to signal, perhaps intentionally, that it was all just theatricals. Less so this time. Morsi and his fellow-defendants haven’t been allowed to meet family or lawyers. Some told journalists today they have been tortured. And Morsi’s trial isn’t being televised: the government is too worried about providing him a platform. This morning he refused to wear prison garb and told the presiding judge: ‘I’m still your president.’ The trial has been adjourned till January.

Comment on this post

Log in or register to post a comment.


  • Recent Posts

    RSS – posts

  • Contributors

  • Recent Comments

    • UncleShoutingSmut on Goodbye, Circumflex: Unfortunately this post is likely to leave readers with a very partial idea of what is going on. Firstly, there is no "edict": all that has happened i...
    • martyn94 on The Price of Everything: If it's a joke at anyone's expense, it's surely at the expense of any super-rich who take it seriously. I used to skim it occasionally as a diversion ...
    • mideastzebra on Swedish-Israeli Tensions: Avigdor Liberman was not foreign minister November 2015.
    • lars hakanson on Exit Cameron: Europe will for good reason rejoice when the UK elects to leave. The country has over the years provided nothing but obstacles to European integration...
    • Michael Schuller on Immigration Scandals: The Home Office is keen to be seen to be acting tough on immigration, although I'm not sure that the wider project has anything to do with real number...

    RSS – comments

  • Contact

  • Blog Archive

  • From the LRB Archive

    Chris Lehmann: The Candidates
    18 June 2015

    ‘Every one of the Republican candidates can be described as a full-blown adult failure. These are people who, in most cases, have been granted virtually every imaginable advantage on the road to success, and managed nevertheless to foul things up along the way.’

    Hugh Pennington:
    The Problem with Biodiversity
    10 May 2007

    ‘As a medical microbiologist, for example, I have spent my career fighting biodiversity: my ultimate aim has been to cause the extinction of harmful microbes, an objective shared by veterinary and plant pathologists. But despite more than a hundred years of concentrated effort, supported by solid science, smallpox has been the only success.’

    Jeremy Harding: At the Mexican Border
    20 October 2011

    ‘The battle against illegal migration is a domestic version of America’s interventions overseas, with many of the same trappings: big manpower commitments, militarisation, pursuit, detection, rendition, loss of life. The Mexican border was already the focus of attention before 9/11; it is now a fixation that shows no signs of abating.’

    James Meek: When the Floods Came
    31 July 2008

    ‘Last July, a few days after the floods arrived, with 350,000 people still cut off from the first necessity of life, Severn Trent held its annual general meeting. It announced profits of £325 million, and confirmed a dividend for shareholders of £143 million. Not long afterwards the company, with the consent of the water regulator Ofwat, announced that it wouldn’t be compensating customers: all would be charged as if they had had running water, even when they hadn’t.’

Advertisement Advertisement