It was not surprising to see Israeli officials expressing great sympathy for ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak as they objected to him being put on trial, not least because he gave the Zionist state thirty years of stability. One of the main objectives of Mubarak's regime was to provide security for Israel, to the extent that he confronted each and every Arab movement, armed or peaceful, which threatened that stability.
Some Israelis shed tears in sympathy with Mubarak and objected to him being taken to court on a prison bed for his trial at the police academy that used to bear his name and where he gave the last of his public speeches, citing his age and frailty. They have short memories. Didn't Israel exercise considerable pressure on Germany to put on trial John Demjanjuk, convicted of being a Nazi guard in a concentration camp in his nineties? He arrived in court in a wheelchair, barely able to speak, before being sentenced to five years in prison. There was no sentimentality in Germany about bringing the nonagenarian to trial, nor is any shown by the Simon Wiesenthal Centre, which is dedicated to bringing suspected Nazi war criminals to trial no matter how long it takes.
We Arabs hope to have a similar centre, not only to hunt down Arab leaders, their descendants and the leaders of their security services who have abused their positions for decades to the detriment of their people, but also to bring to justice Israelis who have committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in occupied Palestine and Lebanon. They are the people who used white phosphorus against unarmed civilians during the assault on the Gaza Strip in 2008/9, and their partners in crime who have committed many atrocities in south Lebanon, the most prominent being the two massacres in Qana. And let's not forget the Egyptian school of "Bahr Albaqar", and the killings on board the Freedom Flotilla in international waters in May 2010.
Hosni Mubarak is sick, but the poor state of his health has been exaggerated for many months in an attempt to stop him being put on trial. Television images from the trial showed a man clearly in command of his faculties without any special medical support equipment talking to his son. He could have been taken to court in a wheelchair, but the bed was used to try to create as much sympathy for him as possible.
People have the right to sympathise with the deposed president, or even those who defend him, and to remind us of some of his achievements. However, we also have the right, as do millions of people in Egypt, to insist that he is made accountable for the crimes committed during his thirty years in power. The ex-Minister of the Interior, Major General Habib al-Adli, who ravaged the land with his repression and ordered his troops to shoot protesters in Tahrir Square in Cairo and in other cities, killing nearly 500, did so on the order of Mubarak. Such crimes were committed in order to try to pave the way for the "accession" of Mubarak's son Gamal, who acted as his father's "Crown Prince".
There is nothing in Egyptian law which puts an age barrier on someone standing trial, and those who sympathise with Mubarak in his current predicament should put themselves in his victims' shoes, and those of their families'. Mercy is required, and compassion is essential, for those who deserve it. However, his list of crimes and the charges against him suggest strongly that the former president does not fall into that category.
Source: Al-Quds Al-Arabi Opinion 4/08/2011