By Heba Fahmy
CAIRO: The New Cairo Court decided on Monday to try former interior minister Habib Al-Adly and six of his assistants, along side ousted president Hosni Mubarak on Aug. 3, for their involvement in killing and injuring peaceful protesters.
One of the family members of the martyrs threw a hard object at the dock where El-Adly was being held and cursed him following the court’s verdict. Al-Adly was quickly ushered out of the dock.
Outside the courtroom, Hundreds of protesters hurled stones at a convoy of vans taking Egypt’s once-feared interior minister from court on Monday after the judge’s verdict.
“Why did they postpone the trial today? We are tired of this never-ending postponement. The son of my brother died in the revolution; who will give us our rights … if the court keeps postponing trials of those who killed him?” asked Mohamed Abdou, who was outside the court.
“They want blood, we will give them blood,” Mohamed El-Guindy, father of nine-year-old Hassan who was shot dead by police forces on Jan. 29, told Daily News Egypt.
“I wanted my son to grow up to be an architect,” El-Guindy said crying and holding his son’s blood stained garment. “I will not let his blood go to waste,” he added.
The court’s decision raised wide speculation that the trial would be held in Sharm El-Sheikh, where the former president has been a resident in its main hospital for medical reasons, ever since he was detained on April 13.
“How are we expected to travel to Sharm El-Sheikh, if the trial is held there?” said Ruqayya Mohamed, mother of martyr Ahmed Suleiman, adding that most of the martyrs’ families cannot afford to travel to the Red Sea resort.
Defense and civil society lawyers said that the head of the appeals court will announce where the trial would be held in the upcoming days.
Judge Adel Abdel-Salam Gomaa ordered that the trial be postponed to Aug. 3 so it is “joined with the case related to the trial of the former President Hosni Mubarak”, saying that the evidence and charges were the same.
Some of the lawyers welcomed the verdict as a step towards achieving justice, while others described it as “invalid”.
“This way the court subtly accepted the civil society lawyers’ demand to change the judicial panel by referring the case to another panel trying Mubarak,” Ibrahim Saleh lawyer representing one of Al-Adly’s assistants told DNE.
Civil society lawyers had called for the judge to step down in May, citing strong links with the former corrupt regime and accusing him of mishandling the case. Al-Adly will now be tried by Judge Ahmed Fahmy Rifaat.
However civil society lawyer, Rifaat Mohamed said it was against the law to include Al-Adly’s trial with Mubarak’s, adding that it should be the other way around.
“Mubarak’s trial should be held here in the criminal court, because according to the law the newer case must be added to the older case, which has already been in session for a few months now,” Mohamed explained.
The first hearing in the case was in March and the court has postponed it repeatedly.
Many Egyptians believe the army is reluctant to speed up the trial of Mubarak, its former commander-in-chief, and say it wants to prevent his public humiliation. They also accuse the army of foot-dragging in other reforms.
Al-Adly’s was among the first of trials of ex-officials to be aired live on TV and the minister’s first. Journalists and lawyers packed the chaotic courtroom. Lawyers and relatives of victims were pushing and shouting in the courtroom, prompting the judge to threaten to throw everyone out.
The protesters outside the court house said that they wanted to see Al-Adly behind bars with their own eyes, adding that it wasn’t enough to air the trial on national TV.
The 18 day youth uprising, which led Mubarak to step down, saw bloody clashes between protesters and Al-Adly’s security forces, leaving at least 846 people dead and over 6,000 injured.
If convicted, Mubarak, 83, and Al-Adly and the six others could face the death penalty.
The former minister was in charge of Egypt’s 500,000-strong police force, some of whom are blamed for the worst human rights abuses during Mubarak’s 29-year-rule.
On May 5, he was sentenced to 12 years in prison for money laundering and unlawful acquisition of public funds, the first convicted official of the regime of former Mubarak. Accordingly, he wore a blue prison suit in court on Monday. –Additional reporting by Agencies
Protesters throw stones at a police convoy carrying Al-Adly outside a court in Cairo on July 25 after a judge delayed his murder trial. (AFP Photo/Khaled Desouki)