Monday, June 4, 2012

Fragments from Mubarak's Trial


Over the last few days, I’ve been addicted to reading accounts of Mubarak’s trial verdict. Most news reports repeated the same facts: the crowds outside, the judge’s speech, the verdicts, the celebrations, the fight that broke out in the courtroom. I found myself drawn to the details, to the moments where the reporters narrated what they were seeing and tried to capture the drama, and not just the information, of the moment. There were no big-picture writers like Hannah Arendt or Rebecca West in attendance, so we'll have to wait for someone creative to treat the moment like the literature of fact it is. 


Modeled on this blog post about October 9th, here is a sampling of what I pulled from those accounts, with a few videos from the trial. You don’t need to understand Arabic to  feel the emotional power, and in fact not knowing the language allows you to focus on everything else: the tense gestures of the officials, the nervous tone of the judge, the stony faces of the defendants. Most Egyptians witnessed the trial on television, as if they were watching a movie. But what was it like to experience the moment with all five senses?

Lina El-Wardani: The courtroom was less than quarter full, with the smell of stale cigarettes, sweat and urine making it almost unbearable.

Policemen flanked each row of seats, with some even standing in front of the judges.

Ahram Online: Outside the academy, the sun's sweltering heat is forcing some protesters to take refuge in the shade.

Yasmin Wali: Security was tight. Areas were designated for Mubarak sympathizers at a minimum of 500 meters away from anti-Mubarak protesters to avoid clashes.

Wali: A gaggle of teenage boys began chanting and playing music with drums. "Revolution from the start, until you wear the red prison suit and die.”

Leila Fadel: Mubarak arrived in a hospital gurney

His eyes were masked with sunglasses and his sons stood around him to cover him from the cameras.

Egypt Independent: Relatives of the martyrs killed during the 18-day uprising are holding up pictures of the deceased inside the courtroom.

Zeinobia: The families of the victims have set a ladder , the symbol of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafik on fire.

Wali: Victims' lawyers began lifting photos of slain protesters in front of the cameras and judges. A few lawyers with long beards raised placards reading, "Execution is the people's verdict," and, "Execution is God's verdict."

Zeinobia: Judge Refaat called the defendants and Mubarak answered “I am here”.

Listen to the tone of Mubarak’s voice as he says ‘I am here’


Zeinobia: The watch Mubarak wore in the trial is interesting , some believe it is a 50 Fathom 18K Rose Gold Blancpain watch worth $21,600.

Wali: The judge began by giving a long speech praising the revolution and the "great people of Egypt" who revolted peacefully against tyranny and poverty and were helped by "God and the angels to clear the darkness.”
He went on to describe Mubarak's three-decade rule as "thirty years of black; pitch-black hopelessness."

Bradley Hope: Judge Ahmed Refaat went hoarse. But then, in a booming voice, he sentenced Hosni Mubarak to life in prison

Abdel-Rahman Hussein: People crowded around vans in the large sun-baked parking lot, listening to stereos blaring Judge Ahmed Refaat’s long and flowery pronouncement of the verdict. When Refaat read out that Mubarak was sentenced to life, a huge roar erupted,

Fadel: Egyptians outside the courtroom rejoiced, setting off firecrackers and waving the Egyptian flag in the air.

Hussein: The Mubarak supporters were also angry. They chased photographers and anyone who approached them. One irate man attacked a car.

Hope: As Mr. Refaat finished his speech, the hushed courtroom erupted into a tumult of fights

Dina Zayed: Moments later, the courtroom dissolved into chaos, as the plaintiff lawyers chanted slogans against the judiciary in one area and unrelated fistfights breaking out in another.

Egypt Independent: Lawyers representing the families of the martyrs explode in protest inside the courtroom, angry that Adly's aids have escaped conviction. They chant: "The people demand the purging of the judiciary!" and "Illegitimate!" A fight breaks out in the courtroom.

Fadel: A brawl broke out in the courtroom, with men pushing each other and jumping on benches after Mubarak was wheeled out.

Wali: As the judges departed the courtroom soon afterward, lawyers began to shout, "The people want an independent judiciary!" and "Down with the regime!"

Hope: For those pleased with the verdict, the joy melted away when it sank in that seven others on trial had been acquitted. Thousands poured into Tahrir Square to demonstrate and there were other protests across the country.

Here is a reading of the verdict. The judge to the right looks totally affect-less. The judge to the left shifts in his chair constantly. The lips of Mubarak’s sons twitch subtly. Starting at 6:25, the court erupts. Everyone waves their arms. A man stands on his chair and bends as he screams. Mubarak is wheeled out, his face totally devoid of emotion.


With live translation:

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