January 22, 2012
CAIRO (Reuters) – Hosni Mubarak is still the president of Egypt and the court trying him has no legal jurisdiction to do so, his defence lawyer said on Sunday, trying to undermine the prosecution’s case against the leader deposed in a popular revolt last year.
Lawyer Farid el-Deeb was defending Mubarak for the fifth and final day of a trial that Egyptians who rose up against Mubarak’s 30-year-rule hope will bring justice. The prosecution is seeking the death sentence on a charge that Mubarak was involved in the killing of some 850 protesters in the uprising.
Mubarak’s defence has denied those charges and attacked the prosecution’s case on other charges of corruption and abuse of power. Many Egyptians who want to see Mubarak held to account worry the case is not as strong as it should be.
A light sentence or an acquittal may fuel more rage and is likely to lead to street protests. Activists are calling for mass demonstrations on January 25, the anniversary of the uprising.
“Is Hosni Mubarak still the president? I say yes. In accordance with the constitution, he is still the president until this day,” Deeb said to applause and chants of “God is Greatest” among the defence team.
“We have a clear constitutional article that stipulates that the president of the state is to be tried by a special court.”
Citing texts from the 1971 constitution, Deeb said the president can only be referred to trial by two-thirds of parliament and that only a special tribunal can try him.
“Any law that contradicts that article is over-ruled,” Deeb said, as the security officers who filled up the court room, looked at each other in amusement and shock.