June 3, 2012 in Nation/World

Mubarak receives life term

Thousands in Egypt protest limited scope of court’s decision
Hamza Hendawi Associated Press
 
Associated Press photo

Egyptians gather at Tahrir Square in Cairo to call for a new revolution in Egypt on Saturday after Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison.
(Full-size photo)(All photos)

Leaders affected by Arab Spring

Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was the first Arab Spring leader to be tried in his own country, but he is not the only ruler in the Middle East to be caught up in the uprisings that have swept across the region since early last year. Here’s a look at the fate of other Arab leaders:

Tunisia, Zine El Abidine Ben Ali: The former Tunisian leader fled to Saudi Arabia on Jan. 14, 2011, after a monthlong uprising that sparked the larger Arab Spring. Ben Ali has been convicted in absentia by a Tunisian court for corruption and other crimes during his 23-year authoritarian rule.

Libya, Moammar Gadhafi: After leading Libya for four decades, Gadhafi spent his final weeks shuttling from hideout to hideout in his hometown of Sirte until rebel fighters captured and killed him in October.

Yemen, Ali Abdullah Saleh: The Yemeni president clung to power for nearly a year in the face of mass protests against his rule. Finally, under a U.S. and Gulf-brokered agreement, Saleh handed over power to his vice president, who earlier this year was elected president. But Saleh remains in Yemen and at the head of his party, and his relatives and loyalists still hold powerful positions in the military and government.

Syria, Bashar Assad: The Syrian president is clinging to power, despite a 15-month-long uprising against his rule that has turned into a bloodbath and near civil war. Activists say at least 13,000 people have been killed. Assad’s forces unleashed a withering crackdown against a revolt that began with peaceful protests, prompting many of the regime’s opponents – joined by army defectors – to take up arms against the government.

Associated Press

CAIRO – Former President Hosni Mubarak got a life sentence Saturday for failing to stop the killing of protesters during Egypt’s uprising. But he and his sons were cleared of corruption charges, setting off protests for greater accountability for 30 years of abuses under the old regime.

By nightfall, a large crowd of up to 10,000 was back in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the uprising, to vent anger over the acquittals. Similar protests went on in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and Suez on the Red Sea.

“Justice was not served,” said Ramadan Ahmed, whose son was killed on Jan. 28, the bloodiest day of last year’s uprising. “This is a sham,” he said outside the courthouse.

Protesters chanted: “A farce, a farce, this trial is a farce” and “The people want execution of the murderer.”

The case against Mubarak, his sons and top aides was limited in scope, focusing only on the uprising’s first few days and two narrow corruption cases. It was never going to provide a full accountability of wrongdoing under Mubarak’s three decades of authoritarian rule enforced by a brutal police force and a coterie of businessmen linked to the regime who amassed wealth while nearly half of Egypt’s estimated 85 million people lived in poverty.

Mubarak, 84, and his ex-security chief Habib el-Adly were both convicted of complicity in the killings of some 900 protesters and received life sentences. Six top police commanders were acquitted of the same charge with chief Judge Ahmed Rifaat saying there was a lack of concrete evidence.

That absolved the only other representatives of Mubarak’s hated security forces aside from el-Adly. It was a stark reminder that though the head has been removed, the body of the reviled security apparatus is largely untouched by genuine reform or purges since Mubarak was ousted 15 months ago.

Many of the senior security officials in charge during the uprising and the Mubarak regime continue to go to work every day at their old jobs.

In many ways, the old system remains in place. The clearest example of that is a key regime figure – Mubarak’s longtime friend and last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq – is one of two candidates going to the presidential runoff set for June 16-17. On Saturday, Shafiq’s campaign headquarters in the cities of Fayyoum and Hurghada were attacked and damaged.

The generals who took over from Mubarak have not shown a will for vigorously prosecuting the old regime. That is something that neither Shafiq nor challenger Mohammed Morsi may have the political will or muscle to change when one is elected president.

Shafiq last week declared himself an admirer of the uprising, calling it a “religious revolution,” and pledged there would be no turning back of the clock while he is at the helm. On Saturday, he said the verdict showed that no one was above the law in today’s Egypt.

Morsi, of the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood, quickly tried to capitalize on the anger over the acquittals, vowing in a news conference that, if elected, he would retry Mubarak along with former regime officials suspected of involvement in killing protesters.

“Egypt and its revolutionary sons will continue their revolution. This revolution will not stop,” he said.

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