Thousands of Egyptians returned to Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Friday calling for a “second revolution” and demanded immediate detention and trial of former president Hosni Mubarak for the killing of hundreds of unarmed protesters during the January-February protests that led to his ouster.
During the Friday prayer at the protest rally in downtown Cairo, Sheikh Mazhar Shahin, the Imam of the prestigious Omar Makarm Mosque in Tahrir, underlined the need for the trial of Mubarak, his family and other major figures from his regime, reported the English edition of Almasry Alyoum, an independent Egyptian news organization.
The Imam complained that while the government promptly arrested an Egyptian teacher who was caught on video beating children with a ruler this week, Mubarak remained at large. Egyptians suspect that the military rulers are siding with the former regime and being too lenient in prosecuting Mubarak and his associates.
A smaller protest was also staged at al-Hadaba in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh where hundreds of Egyptians sought transfer of the deposed president from the Sharm el-Sheikh hospital, where he is being treated for heart problems since mid-April, to the Tora prison in Cairo.
The Egyptian government was apprehending violence during the Friday protests and had put hospitals, especially in Cairo, on high alert to deal with possible eventualities. But no violent incident was reported and the military stayed away from the Tahrir Square area to avoid a clash with the protesters.
The demonstrations were supported by former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency and a presidential candidate, Mohamed ElBaradei, who is also demanding that Mubarak be tried speedily for corruption and murder charges. However, the Muslim Brotherhood, the most organized political group in the country, opposed the attempts for a “second revolution.”
Last week, the Egyptian state prosecutor formally declared that Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, would be tried for the killings as well as charges of illicit gain and squandering public funds. And last month, the prosecutor general had ordered the detention of Mubarak and his sons ahead of an official investigation.
The charges Mubarak is facing include wilful murder, attempted killing of demonstrators, misuse of office, deliberately wasting public funds and unlawfully making private financial gains and profits.
Egypt’s military government claims that 360 people were killed during the 2011 revolution that forced Mubarak to resign after 30 years in office. But rights groups estimate at least 800 deaths. Security personnel used live ammunition, rubber bullets, water cannon and batons on the protesters. If proven guilty, Mubarak could face the death penalty as per the Egyptian law. Many Egyptians suspect that Mubarak is faking a heart ailment to evade prison.
Suzanne Mubarak, the wife of the deposed president, is also facing charges of corruption. She was arrested and later released this month after she returned assets to the government.
On May 26, investigators of Egypt’s Illicit Gains Authority revealed that Mubarak’s holiday villa in Sharm el-Sheikh was worth more than 40 million Egyptian pounds, or US$6.7 million, the local media reported. The investigators also said that former officials had manipulated the stock exchange in favor of Alaa Mubarak to help him earn over 30 million Egyptian pounds, or US$5 million, in profits in 1990. Mubarak’s son also made hundreds of millions of Egyptian pounds in closed public offers and kept millions more in a bank account belonging to a charity he formed which is managed by Suzanne Mubarak, they added.
Egypt, one of Africa’s most populous countries, is expected to have the presidential election in September or October this year.