Saturday, August 06, 2011

Mubarak Trial: All Rise!

This was the day millions of Egyptians were waiting for but were not sure would ever happen. The Mubarak trial has had it's share of controversy ever since it was announced. Many didn't believe the Military council were serious about trying their former commander in chief. Many others thought that if they did it would only be a show, Mubarak would not be seen in the caged dock . His sons may appear and the trial would be adjourned in a few minutes.

"Sorry father..."
Everything about that day proved the expectations wrong. We set out from the early hours of the morning to ensure a good position to set up out side the Police Academy in New Cairo. Ironically it was formerly known as the Mubarak Police Academy. When we arrived Pro-Mubarak protesters were on the scene in full force, all wearing T-shirts that said "I am Egyptian I refuse to humiliate the leader of the nation in reference to former president Hosni Mubarak.

Some carried placards saying "Mubarak , I'm sorry Father for what my brothers did to you" another placard said "The President protected us no to humiliating him" The chants continued , amid very heavy riot police presence and an increasingly scorching Ramadan morning.

Tension mounted as the anti Mubarak crowds started to arrive. Mothers who say that their sons died during the January 25 Revolution that saw the toppling of Mubarak. Men and women of all ages all gathering and waiting for one image .Mubarak in the Dock. Will it happen ? I asked someone? "No this is just a show." a man told me " They want to pacify us" someone else said.

Then, the clashes started. Pro and anti Mubarak crowds. Stones, shoes and sticks were flying in every direction. we could do nothing but take refuge in the transmission tents. Riot police were able to control it eventually, but clashes would continue to break out every half an hour or so through out the morning.

The big screen outside the court started showing courtroom pictures where journalists and lawyers were being seated. Every time the picture of the courtroom appeared the crowds shouted "3ayzeen neshofo --3ayzeen neshofo" We want to see him we want to see him." Even as they were chanting this, no one really believed they would see him. Even as a helicopter hovered over us and went into the police academy no one was 100 percent sure he would show up.

The big screen is showing pictures of the caged dock with it's back-door open. Former interior minster Habib el adly and his six aids enter the dock. Big cheers from the crowds. Then the presidents sons Allaa and Gamal Mubarak the crowds grow louder and more hysterical with shoes and stones now being thrown at the screen.

Then came the scene that no one had pictured. Hosni Mubarak the former Egyptian President being pulled on a stretcher into the caged dock. His hair pitch black, wearing a white sports outfit , looking very alert. There was a collective gasp and a moment's silence , then there were ululations of mothers who were in tears. "My son--" One mother told me. " My son's blood was not in vain" . For the first time in the history of the region an Arab leader was being tried by his own people.

The trial continued throughout the day. It started with Habib Al Adly and his aids on the accusations of killing protesters in January. Then there was the corruption case against Mubarak and his sons.

"First Defendant, Mohamed Hosni El Sayed Mubarak" The judge announced "Yes, I am present" Hosni Mubarak answered. Cheers and jeers filled the air as the former president said his first words in court and was described unimaginably as 'defendant' . His sons were also called. Each was presented with the corruption charges against them and each refuted them entirely.

The trial continued and so did the buzz outside the police Academy. "This is the beginning of a long road to justice. In the end he should hang" one young woman told me.

"It's happening in Egypt!"
"Seeing him like this, it's gorgeous" one man said. "We are showing the world what we can do. This is the first time this happens" another man tells me. "And it's happening in Egypt. I am proud. "

Habib El Adly's trial was adjourned to the next day and later to the 14th of August while Mubarak's trial was adjourned to the 15th of August.

The big space outside the police academy starts to empty out. Channels dismantle their dishes and people make their way home. You could see the satisfaction and vindication on some faces. The smiles say everything.

Whatever the court decides at the end of this trial one thing will remain unchanged. On that very hot Ramdan summer day, to millions of Egyptians, justice was being served.

The audio version of this post is being broadcast on World Report for RTE News.