Well worth the read: it explains much. Q&A: The Mubarak trial verdict—What just happened?
Mada Masr, by Hossam Bahgat
There appears to be the usual share of confusion about what the Mubarak trial judge just said and did. As seen on television, the judge promised his “sons in the media” flash drives containing talking points (in the neighborhood of 200 pages) to help them, he said, with their news coverage until they have had a chance to read the entire ruling. Until that summary is available, I will address here a couple of the most persistent questions so far, pending further updates.
Q: Does Mubarak walk out now?
A: Yes. He is free to go for the time being. There have been some conflicting statements in the media on this point by named and unnamed legal sources after the verdict was announced. The confusion stems from the fact that Mubarak was sentenced last May to three years in prison on corruption charges related to embezzling millions of Egyptian pounds from state funds to spend on mansions owned privately by himself and his family.
Because Mubarak was convicted in the “mansions” case in May 2014, many have made the logical assumption that he would serve that sentence until 2017, notwithstanding today’s combination of acquittals and non-convictions of other charges of killing protesters and corruption, which isn’t the case. I have spoken to two senior criminal defense and human rights lawyers, who have independently confirmed that Mubarak’s three-year sentence in the mansions case does not start at the date of his conviction in May 2014, but rather at the date of his arrest and pre-trial detention in May 2011. With today’s acquittal, there is no legal basis for keeping him in prison.
Both sources have directed me to Article 483 of the Code of Criminal Procedures. This is my informal, non-lawyerly English translation:
“If a defendant is found not guilty of a crime for which he was held in pretrial detention then the period of pretrial detention shall be deducted from the period [of imprisonment] to which the defendant is sentenced for any [other] crime he might have committed or for which he has been investigated while in pretrial detention.”
The above is legalese for saying that a defendant’s prison term starts not at the time of sentencing but at the time of detention, even if that detention was for another charge. So even though Mubarak was held between May 2011 and May 2014 for the protester-killing charge, that period will count as time served for the mansions case.
The three-year sentence Mubarak was handed in May 2014 ended, therefore, in May 2014. A coincidence, of course – To suggest otherwise would be ground for prosecution for “insulting the judiciary.”
Q: Was Mubarak acquitted of the charge of killing protesters?
A: No, he wasn’t. He was not convicted either. The judge threw out the entire charge on procedural grounds.
First, the necessary background: Following Mubarak’s abdication of power in February 2011, Public Prosecutor Abdel Meguid Mahmoud decided to investigate the killing of protesters during the 18 days of revolt that ended Mubarak’s tenure. On March 23, 2011, Mahmoud, who had served under Mubarak and remained in office until late 2012, indicted Mubarak’s Interior Minister Habib al-Adly and his senior assistants, but not Mubarak himself, for having ordered or otherwise abetted the killing of protesters throughout the country. Two months later, the Supreme Council of Armed Forces, which had succeeded Mubarak in power, faced pressure from street demonstrations demanding accountability for Mubarak too. On May 24, 2011, the public prosecutor added Mubarak as a co-defendant in the case.