The first hearing of the case against ousted President Dr Mohammed Morsi has shed light on several mysterious issues and, more importantly, has helped to clear up many questions that have been on many people's minds. For example, we learnt that Dr Morsi has been held at the Abu Qir naval base in Alexandria over the past few months and that he was questioned by four different judges in the presence of lawyers who he did not know.
The most important thing that we have learnt is the ousted president's ranking among the fifteen defendants in the case; he comes in at number twelve. Seven out of the fifteen are on the run and the first defendant is well-known architect Asad Sheikha, who is the nephew of the former president and was the second in charge of his office. The remainder of the defendants are employees and aides who worked for the presidential office. It is also understood that the first eleven defendants are accused of inciting violence that eventually led to the deaths of three individuals in addition to torturing and detaining fifty-four others. As for the defendants ranked from numbers twelve to fifteen, they are accused of initiating conflict and rebellion. Morsi is followed in the list by Dr Mohamed El-Beltagy, Dr Essam El-Erian and, finally the preacher, Wagdy Ghoneim, who currently resides outside of Egypt.
It was also noted that among the accusations against Dr Morsi is that he instigated, with others, the events that occurred on December 5th 2012. No mention has been made of allegations that he "collaborated" with Hamas. Furthermore, there was no mention of the rumour that Dr Morsi complied with the desires of the US administration, which led many to accuse him of being a 'traitor' or a 'spy'.
More importantly, the trial referred to only three people who were killed and fifty-four who were injured in last year's federal events despite the fact that eight people were killed and two hundred and fifty were subjected to numerous injuries, some of them permanent. In fact, the families of these individuals have filed reports to the police about the incident and none of them have been followed up by the prosecution.
It seems curious that all of the victims were either killed or injured on the same day, at the same time and location. It is also strange that the trial refers to only a few of the victims while ignoring the others. While this distinction seemed rather puzzling at first, it now appears that it was clearly not a coincidence or a mistake. It seems as though the decision to distinguish between the victims was deliberate because the three dead and fifty-four injured referred to in the court all appear to have been opponents of President Morsi. Thus, the decision to refer to certain individuals facilitates the court's conviction of President Morsi and his aides for conspiring to kill these individuals. The others who were killed and injured on that day all appear to have been supporters of President Morsi, for which reason no reference is being made to them as to do so would be to undermine the prosecution's case. It is possible that the court will attempt to point accusatory fingers when referencing these cases. It is also important to point out that if the court were to bring all of the victims into consideration, this would undoubtedly require the involvement of the families of these individuals, not to mention high-ranking officials in the security sector and the coup authorities. If all this is true, then there is a political reason behind making the three killed and fifty-four injured who were Morsi opponents the focus of this trial.
I have read through the newspapers that have reported on the trial. None of them made any reference to the ill-treatment of the accused men when they were placed in solitary confinement for twenty-two hours a day, as is required by prison regulations. There was also no mention of the hardships and abuse experienced by the defendant's lawyers or that they were given only five permits to attend the hearings despite the fact that they made fifteen requests. Among the individuals whose permits were rejected are three judges requested by the lawyers from Ismailia, Assiut and Qiluybia. Meanwhile, permits were given to more than fifty journalists, which illustrates that there was seventy per cent more importance placed on media attendance rather than ensuring that a proper defence was provided for the defendants. In contrast, the plaintiffs have been shown great generosity by the court.
Regardless of all this, I suppose that something is better than nothing at all. After all, we still do not know who killed the January 25th protesters, estimated to be around nine hundred people; nor has anyone been held accountable for the two hundred and fifteen people who were killed in the presence of military personnel. Yes, it is true that we are only concerned with investigating the killing of three out of one hundred and fifty-four people killed during President Morsi's time in office (source: Arabic Network for Human Rights) because we all realise that the 'march' of justice in Egypt is slow. I do not know when we will begin to review the long list of martyrs who have been killed since 2011 and the 3,000 who have been killed recently in the chaos of the sit-ins following President Morsi's ousting in July. We cannot put all of the blame for the absurdity of recent events on the inaction of the judiciary; we have to consider what role politics played in this case yesterday and today, and how much it will play tomorrow.
This is a translation of the Arabic text published by Al Shorouk Newspaper on 6 October, 2013
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.