• 11:33
  • Thursday ,04 August 2011

Tantawy to testify before court, say legal experts

By-Heba Fahmy-Daily News Egypt

Home News


Thursday ,04 August 2011

Tantawy to testify before court, say legal experts

CAIRO: Head of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) Field Marshal Hussein Tantawy should appear in court to testify in the case against former president Hosni Mubarak, legal experts said Wednesday.

Both the defense team and civil society lawyers called on the court to summon Tantawy along with Chief of Staff Sami Anan and former ex-vice president Omar Suleiman to testify on who gave orders to shoot peaceful protesters during the January 25 Revolution.
Lawyers cited several occasions where army officials told the media that they refused to kill peaceful protesters in Tahrir Square.
"We want to know who gave them these orders," one of the lawyers said.
"There are no legal reasons that would prevent Tantawy from testifying in court," judge Zakaria Abdel-Aziz told Daily News Egypt.
Abdel-Aziz and Tarek Moawad, lawyer in the Front for Defending Egyptian Protesters, said judge Ahmed Rifaat, who is handling the case, would not hesitate to summon Tantawy even though he is the current ruler of the country.
However, Ahmed Ragheb, director of the Hisham Mubarak Law Center, doubted that Tantawy would be summoned.
"Tantawy's appearance in court might negatively affect his position as the current ruler of the country during this transitional period," Ragheb said, adding that the court should still summon Tantawy as he is a key witness in the case.
There is speculation that even if Tantawy is summoned in court, his testimony would not be aired on national TV.
"As long as witnesses don't disclose any state secrets, their testimonies should be made public," Adel-Aziz said.
Lawyers representing the state demanded a compensation of LE 1 billion from the defendants to go into the state treasury for damages incurred to public and private property during the uprising.
They added that the defendants should compensate the government for giving out pensions and compensation to martyrs' families.
Abdel-Aziz said this is the first time in Egypt's history that lawyers representing the state stand against a former president.
"The president is merely an employee in the state, if he makes a mistake he should be held accountable," Abdel-Aziz said, adding that the country's tourism and economy were negatively affected by the defendants' decision to kill peaceful protesters.
He explained that lawyers of the state represent the state as an entity, and not the government, headed by Prime Minister Essam Sharaf.
"Egypt has a judicial committee that represents the state and its interests," he said.
Civil society lawyers also demanded that Minister of Interior Mansour El-Essawy present to the court lists including the names of snipers and the disbanded State Security's riot squad who targeted peaceful protesters.
Moawad said that neither the interior ministry nor the State Security apparatus have sniper units.
"El-Essawy said this on many occasions, so there is no way he can present such a list to the court," he said.
Among the lawyers’ requests was admitting footage collected by state TV from short circuit TV cameras of the mass protests as evidence along with recordings of the phone conversations between the nine defendants during the uprising.
Moawad said it is unlikely that there are recordings of conversations between the former president and interior minister.
"However, wireless devices used by officers on the street to receive orders from their superiors could be obtained," he added, even though the interior ministry might claim that these recordings have been destroyed or lost during the revolt
Ragheb said, "All this information is considered evidence in the case," adding that this evidence is in the possession of the current government.
"The [SCAF] hasn't shown a clear intent to provide this information and make it public until now," he added.
One of the civil society lawyers requested that Mubarak be transferred to Tora Prison, instead of where he was being held before at a hospital in Sharm El-Sheikh. However the court decided to transfer him to the International Medical Center on the Cairo-Ismailia Desert Road.
"Usually defendants are held in prison hospitals, sometimes very prominent figures are held in Qasr El-Aini Hospital," Moawad said.
"This is the first time a defendant is held in a renowned hospital like this one," he added.
Moawad pointed out that this decision might augment speculation that Mubarak is being given special treatment.
Ragheb and Abdel-Aziz said that it was legal for Mubarak to be transferred to this hospital, as Tora Prison is not equipped to tend to his medical condition.
Another lawyer also demanded that Mubarak be tried for the arms commission case in a regular court instead of a military court.
Abdel-Aziz and Moawad said that the court could not give a verdict regarding this issue, as it's within the military court's jurisdiction.