CAIRO – Prosecutors on Thursday called for Hosni Mubarak to be hanged, saying he bore full responsibility for the killing of protesters during the uprising against him, in a courtroom moment unthinkable barely a year ago when the longtime leader held unquestioned power.
The demand for the death penalty at the 83-year-old former president’s trial played to the widespread resentment of Mubarak among Egyptians who hoped that punishment for his oppressive rule would be fruit of the Arab Spring.
Still, some of the activists who helped topple him are skeptical the sentence would ever be carried out, if he is convicted. A conviction would be followed by a possibly lengthy appeals process that the ailing Mubarak’s lawyer would likely draw out, and Egypt’s new rulers – the military – have the power to veto a death sentence.
Mubarak has been brought to every hearing since his trial began on Aug. 3 on a hospital gurney, wheeled into the courtroom cage where defendants are held, alongside his two sons, former security chief and six top police commanders.
On Thursday, prosecutor Mustafa Khater gave a passionate speech demanding the death penalty for Mubarak, former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly and four of the police commanders. They are charged with complicity in the deaths of some 800 protesters during the 18-day uprising that led to Mubarak’s fall on Feb. 11.
“Retribution is the solution. Any fair judge must issue a death sentence for these defendants,” said Khater, one of five prosecutors in the case.
“We feel the spirits of the martyrs flying over this hall of sacred justice, and those who lost their sight by the bullets of the defendants are stumbling around it to reach the judge and demand fair retribution from those who attacked them,” he said.