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

Getty
Show Hide image

Theresa May’s stage-managed election campaign keeps the public at bay

Jeremy Corbyn’s approach may be chaotic, but at least it’s more authentic.

The worst part about running an election campaign for a politician? Having to meet the general public. Those ordinary folk can be a tricky lot, with their lack of regard for being on-message, and their pesky real-life concerns.

But it looks like Theresa May has decided to avoid this inconvenience altogether during this snap general election campaign, as it turns out her visit to Leeds last night was so stage-managed that she barely had to face the public.

Accusations have been whizzing around online that at a campaign event at the Shine building in Leeds, the Prime Minister spoke to a room full of guests invited by the party, rather than local people or people who work in the building’s office space.

The Telegraph’s Chris Hope tweeted a picture of the room in which May was addressing her audience yesterday evening a little before 7pm. He pointed out that, being in Leeds, she was in “Labour territory”:

But a few locals who spied this picture online claimed that the audience did not look like who you’d expect to see congregated at Shine – a grade II-listed Victorian school that has been renovated into a community project housing office space and meeting rooms.

“Ask why she didn’t meet any of the people at the business who work in that beautiful building. Everyone there was an invite-only Tory,” tweeted Rik Kendell, a Leeds-based developer and designer who says he works in the Shine building. “She didn’t arrive until we’d all left for the day. Everyone in the building past 6pm was invite-only . . . They seemed to seek out the most clinical corner for their PR photos. Such a beautiful building to work in.”

Other tweeters also found the snapshot jarring:

Shine’s founders have pointed out that they didn’t host or invite Theresa May – rather the party hired out the space for a private event: “All visitors pay for meeting space in Shine and we do not seek out, bid for, or otherwise host any political parties,” wrote managing director Dawn O'Keefe. The guestlist was not down to Shine, but to the Tory party.

The audience consisted of journalists and around 150 Tory activists, according to the Guardian. This was instead of employees from the 16 offices housed in the building. I have asked the Conservative Party for clarification of who was in the audience and whether it was invite-only and am awaiting its response.

Jeremy Corbyn accused May of “hiding from the public”, and local Labour MP Richard Burgon commented that, “like a medieval monarch, she simply briefly relocated her travelling court of admirers to town and then moved on without so much as a nod to the people she considers to be her lowly subjects”.

But it doesn’t look like the Tories’ painstaking stage-management is a fool-proof plan. Having uniform audiences of the party faithful on the campaign trail seems to be confusing the Prime Minister somewhat. During a visit to a (rather sparsely populated) factory in Clay Cross, Derbyshire, yesterday, she appeared to forget where exactly on the campaign trail she was:

The management of Corbyn’s campaign has also resulted in gaffes – but for opposite reasons. A slightly more chaotic approach has led to him facing the wrong way, with his back to the cameras.

Corbyn’s blunder is born out of his instinct to address the crowd rather than the cameras – May’s problem is the other way round. Both, however, seem far more comfortable talking to the party faithful, even if they are venturing out of safe seat territory.

Anoosh Chakelian is senior writer at the New Statesman.

0800 7318496