Wednesday 3 August 2011

Mubarak Trial Begins: Museum Mentioned

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The trial of Hosni Mubarak, his sons Gamal and Alaa and various other officials began today in the heavily guarded courtroom in the Police Academy (formerly Mubarak Police Academy) in Cairo. The defendants were locked in a cage, separating them from their defence teams. The former President was brought in on a hospital bed; reports had been circulating about his ill health, but he looked fairly alert and spoke in a strong voice. Within a few moments of the starting of the trial, Judge Ahmed Refaat seemed to lose control of his courtroom, with defence lawyers of the first seven defendants creating a disturbance with their insistence on presenting oral demands instead of handing them to the court in writing. It was during this that a reference was made to the Egyptian Museum which interested me.

Farid El Deeb (a well-respected Egyptian lawyer) is defending "defendant number 1" in the first of the two cases. In other words Habib El-Adly former Minister of the Interior. Part of his demands concerning things which he insists the court should take into consideration was for the court (itself?) to conduct an inspection of a number of places, to determine that there was no evidence there of the crime attributed to his client of having been undertaken there. Interestingly the first of about five or six places he mentioned was the Egyptian Museum (followed by the Ministry of the Interior). Now why was this? The riots began 25th January, and for the next three days the Museum (though on the north side of Tahrir Square) played little noticeable part in the events [ I admit I do not recall if there was talk of snipers on its roof then]. El-Adly was dismissed from his post on the morning of 28th Jan. The police began to withdraw from their posts about five in the afternoon of that day all over Cairo and other parts of Egypt (including Luxor) and a few hours later the Army was deployed. It was only then (about ten in the evening) that the Museum was occupied by the Army - after which accusations started to appear about what the military units stationed there were doing to protesters on the Museum premises. So what in fact was the connection between the Egyptian Museum and the charges against El-Adly? Further proceedings in the trial may reveal this.

UPDATE: A few days later, it transpired what the connection was, and it is one of great interest in the context of the looting of the Museum on 28th January.

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