Mubarak on trial

Remarkable footage of the former Egyptian president being stretchered into the defendants’ cage.

 

 

Amid chaotic scenes both inside and outside the courtroom, Hosni Mubarak was today in court to face charges of economic corruption, illegal business dealings and the unlawful killing of pro-democracy protesters.

The once-powerful dictator was stretchered into the defendants' cage dressed in white prison overalls. Anyone would be forgiven for not immediately recognising this pathetic figure as the same man who once inspired terror in the hearts of so many Egyptians.

The 83-year-old remained almost entirely silent throughout, speaking once only to confirm his name and make his plea:

I deny all these charges and accusations categorically.

Mubarak's sons and co-defendants - Alaa and Gamal - also pled innocent.

The last time Mubarak appeared on live television was in February, when he refused to resign his post. Less than six months later, the toppled leader potentially faces the death penalty if found guilty of the crimes of which he is accused.

Outside the courthouse, many watched the trial on television at home or huddled around giant public screens. Street fights broke out between rival demonstrators with 53 reported injured, despite the presence of thousands of soldiers and riot police. Egypt's political uncertainties, compounded by Mubarak's trial, have now seen the country's shares drop to a two-month low.

Mubarak's trial has been adjourned until 15 August. Meanwhile, former interior minister Habib el-Adly's resumes tomorrow. Along with six senior police deputies, el-Adly faces charges similar to those of Mubarak.

For many, this trial represents a significant stage in an ongoing battle to improve Egypt's human rights situation. Amnesty International's director for the Middle East and north Africa Malcolm Smart said:

This trial presents a historic opportunity for Egypt to hold a former leader and his inner-circle to account for crimes committed during their rule.

 

Tess Riley is a freelance journalist and social justice campaigner. She also works, part time, for Streetbank, and can be found on Twitter at @tess_riley

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The Brexit elite want to make trade great again – but there’s a catch

The most likely trade partners will want something in return. And it could be awkward. 

Make trade great again! That's an often overlooked priority of Britain's Brexit elite, who believe that by freeing the United Kingdom from the desiccated hand of the European bureaucracy they can strike trade deals with the rest of the world.

That's why Liam Fox, the Trade Secretary, is feeling particularly proud of himself this morning, and has written an article for the Telegraph about all the deals that he is doing the preparatory work for. "Britain embarks on trade crusade" is that paper's splash.

The informal talks involve Norway, New Zealand, and the Gulf Cooperation Council, a political and economic alliance of Middle Eastern countries, including Kuwait, the UAE and our friends the Saudis.

Elsewhere, much symbolic importance has been added to a quick deal with the United States, with Theresa May saying that we were "front of the queue" with President-Elect Donald Trump in her speech this week. 

As far as Trump is concerned, the incoming administration seems to see it differently: Wilbur Ross, his Commerce Secretary, yesterday told Congress that the first priority is to re-negotiate the Nafta deal with their nearest neighbours, Canada and Mexico.

In terms of judging whether or not Brexit is a success or not, let's be clear: if the metric for success is striking a trade deal with a Trump administration that believes that every trade deal the United States has struck has been too good on the other party to the deal, Brexit will be a failure.

There is much more potential for a genuine post-Brexit deal with the other nations of the English-speaking world. But there's something to watch here, too: there is plenty of scope for trade deals with the emerging powers in the Brics - Brazil, India, etc. etc.

But what there isn't is scope for a deal that won't involve the handing out of many more visas to those countries, particularly India, than we do currently.

Downing Street sees the success of Brexit on hinging on trade and immigration. But political success on the latter may hobble any hope of making a decent go of the former. 

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.