CAIRO: Lawyers representing the families of martyrs criticized the argument by Mubarak’s lawyer Farid El-Deeb this week, describing it as legally weak.
El-Deeb, who is representing Mubarak against charges of complicity in killing protesters and making illicit gain, said on Thursday that civilian courts have no authority to hear corruption charges against his client because he reverted to his former military rank when he stepped down on Feb. 11.
El-Deeb cited a law adopted in 1979, under Mubarak’s predecessor Anwar Sadat, which exempts senior military officers from going into retirement and stipulates that if they take up civilian posts, they regain their military rank afterward.
"Under this law, Hosni Mubarak rejoined the armed forces [when he resigned in February 2011], keeping the rank he formerly had, which is to say that he became General Hosni Mubarak once again," the lawyer told the court.
He also referred to a decree by Egypt’s ruling military council, which stipulates that "military justice alone is authorized to try cases of illicit gains by the military."
"Consequently, the accusations directed at the former president by the prosecutor general regarding illicit gains are not admissible," El-Deeb said.
Plaintiffs’ lawyer Mohamed Mahmoud told Daily News Egypt Friday that El-Deeb possibly believes that he can influence the military judiciary more than the criminal court on corruption charges.
"The military court is an exceptional, not independent authority, and is directly controlled by the military leaders. It is possible that Mubarak is holding something against Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi," Mahmoud said.
"El-Deeb thinks that by using a threatening card like this he will enable Mubarak to overcome the corruption charges," he explained.
Lawyer with Al-Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Torture Victims Mohamed Abdel Aziz agreed, deeming El-Deeb’s request to refer corruption charges to the military judiciary as illegal.
"His argument lacks a legal base. He can request whatever he wants, but as long as the criminal court is investigating the corruption probe, then it will continue the investigation because Mubarak was the president, which is a civilian post," Abdel Aziz said.
He added that Mubarak enjoys strong connections with the military judiciary due to his military background and El-Deeb believes it will be easier for Mubarak to face a military trial in this case.
El-Deeb also said on Wednesday that the military was responsible for the killing of protesters during the revolt that ousted the Egyptian president last year, insisting that his client had done nothing wrong, while also blaming “foreign conspiracies.”
He said the reasoning behind his argument was based on the fact that Mubarak imposed a curfew on the afternoon of Jan. 28 which, by law, made the army responsible for security.
"Mubarak used his constitutional power and issued an order imposing a curfew across Egypt and put the army in charge of security from 4 pm, Jan. 28," El-Deeb told the court.
The lawyer said the killing and wounding of protesters began after 4:00 pm on that day, which places the responsibility of the bloodshed squarely on the shoulders of the armed forces.
"Therefore, it does not make sense that police ordered the killing of protesters. The police did not have the jurisdiction or authority to issue any orders since the authority had been transferred to the head of the army."
Mahmoud described El-Deeb’s argument as "misleading", since the killing of the protesters started before 4 pm, and some death cases even took place before Jan.28, citing three deaths in Suez.
"Even if this argument is true and the killing started at 4 pm since the army took over power to secure the streets, Mubarak was not just the head of the Supreme Council of Police, he was also the head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF)," Mahmoud said.
"If the army is in control, this further involves the responsibility of Mubarak; the army was completely under his command on those days," Mahmoud said.
Mahmoud believes that El-Deeb is trying to capitalize on the negative sentiment against the ruling military council, "which may paralyze public opinion and shift the anger from Mubarak to the military rulers.”