There is always a danger that the retrial will provoke sympathy rather than revulsion, but Hosni is not, after all, the lucky chap he might have appeared to be a day or two ago.
Mohamed Morsi’s government dare not – and will not – free this elderly but petulant man for retirement in Sharm el-Sheikh after 800 protesters died in Egypt’s 2011 revolution. Under Mubarak himself, the laws were perverted. Now they have been reconstructed to entangle the corrupt – Mubarak included – in a Bleak House-web of legal argument, stronger evidence, endless trial postponements and yet further incarceration.
Crucial to all this is the new “Office to Protect the Revolution”, which is less ominous than its Nasserite title might suggest. Created last month, it must study a new report on the revolution of 2011, written by a fact-finding commission which is likely to be far less favourable to Mubarak’s security authorities than the evidence presented at the ex-president’s trial which ended seven months ago. Even the prosecutor – let alone the judge – said at the time that this evidence contained discrepancies.
There is always a danger that Mubarak’s retrial will provoke sympathy rather than revulsion. His supposed comas, his fluid in the lungs, his slips in the bathroom have all been meticulously recorded in the Cairo press. What do you expect to be the fate of an 84-year-old man? Egyptians are a forgiving people and, should Mubarak expire before he faces his judges yet again, no one will throw stones at his funeral.
But that is not what the judiciary has in store for him. New videotapes, new eyewitness evidence of the deliberate shooting down of demonstrators by Mubarak’s goons has been gathered over past months. There is talk that the then-president received a live video-feed of the killings. Which means he most certainly did order – by condoning – the killing of demonstrators in Tahrir Square.