Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

The Mubarak Dilemma

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 5th January, 2012

Sitting in Beirut watching Al Jazeera as Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s ousted President, was being wheeled into the Cairo courtroom today for the prosector’s final statement raised mixed emotions inside me. Like many of my Egyptian friends, I am still in a half-daze of disbelief that the Revolution actually managed to get rid of the wretched man. But as a European — and therefore a citizen of a continent which has eschewed the death penalty (at least so far as the EU 27 are concerned) — I am also perplexed by the prosecutor’s demand for the death sentence. I have no doubt of Mubarak’s guilt, not only in overseeing the killings and harassment of protestors duing the Tahrir Square demonstrations, but also of presiding over threee decades of a corrupt regime in which torture and human rights abuses were commonplace and he and his family syphoned off not millions but many billions of dollars. To add insult to injury, he was even trying to engineer a succession for his favourite son, Gamal, who has at times during recent weeks been alongside him in the dock. Unlike in the case of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, an even more monstruous dictator who was despatched without dignity after his death sentence, Mubarak is unlikely to face the hangman’s noose. He is seriously ill — though how seriously is a matter of controversy– and he is quite likely to expire before all legal proceedings (including probable appeals) are exhausted. I believe the highest level of command in the Egyptian army would also be extremely reluctant to see their former Commander in Chief swing. But in the meantime, many of us who metophorically popped champagne corks when Mubarak finally resigned may well find ourselvew obliged to sign petitions against his execution, in favour of life imprisonment, on humanitarian grounds.

 

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2 Responses to “The Mubarak Dilemma”

  1. Martijn said

    I don’t see much of a dilemma here really. If one is against the death penalty under all circumstances (which I am), then one shouldn’t make exceptions (or even feel uncomfortable about doing so) for Really Bad Cases. Otherwise, it is rather like being vegetarian, except for during dinner.

  2. jonathanfryer said

    Martin, I think for some people in the West the dilemma grows out of having to ‘defend’ Mubarak’s rights when the popular will in Egypt had got rid of him and has successfully put him on trial accused of gross human rights violations. But like you, I feel objection to the death penalty is an absolute.

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