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Two Arab Ex-Leaders in Court, One Testifying Againstthe Other

Wednesday 26 December 2018 11:50 PM

Former President Mubarak
Former President Mubarak

By Bloomberg

Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was the second autocrat to be toppled in the 2011 Arab Spring. On Wednesday he became the first to testify against the man who succeeded him a year after a popular uprising ended his three-decade rule.

Known for his dyed, jet-black hair, the trial saw a rare public appearance by the 90-year-old Mubarak in gray hair.

Mohamed Mursi, the Islamist president who won Egypt’s first democratic election in 2013 but was toppled a year later after protests prompted the army to remove him, was also in court.

Mubarak testified about alleged incursions into Egypt’s eastern border during the January 2011 uprising. He said infiltrators entered through tunnels from the Gaza Strip and attacked security forces in northern Sinai in a bid to aid the Brotherhood.

Mubarak, a former air force commander, was himself tried and convicted on various accounts since his ouster. He was acquitted in several retrials since Mursi’s ouster, except in a fraud case that also involved his two sons, for which he was sentenced to time already served.

Unlike his imprisoned successor, though, Mubarak served most of incarceration in a top military hospital.

Mursi and other top Brotherhood officials had been sentenced to death in the initial trial, but his appeal of the verdict was accepted by the highest appeals court and a retrial was ordered.

Asked in court of the Brotherhood’s role in the infiltration, Mubarak responded: “Excuse me from answering that.” He also said the he couldn’t comment on issues relating to national security without securing permission.

“The big things, I know,” Mubarak said, when pressed about different elements of cooperation between the Brotherhood and organizations such as the Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip. He declined to discuss details.

The man who led Mursi’s ouster, then-army commander Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, went on to launch one of the bloodiest crackdowns against the Brotherhood. He was elected president in 2014 and is currently serving his second, four-year term in office.