Mubarak’s sons, others with ties to former regime acquitted
Los Angeles Times
CAIRO — In a pair of cases that hark back to the power elites and repressive practices of Egypt’s past, two sons of ousted autocratic leader Hosni Mubarak were acquitted Thursday on corruption charges and police raided the offices of an outspoken rights group.
The acquittal of Mubarak’s two sons, Gamal and Alaa, together with Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister to serve under Mubarak, was a reminder of the near-total power once enjoyed by the president and his inner circle. Four retired generals were acquitted as well, according to Egyptian state media.
The case stemmed from a 1995 land sale involving large profits for those concerned. Under Egypt’s current military-backed government, many remnants of the former regime are reasserting some of the authority and privilege they enjoyed during the Mubarak era.
The raid on the Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights, carried out late Wednesday, stirred fears of a crackdown similar to one carried out on nongovernmental groups by the military-led regime that succeeded Mubarak, before it was supplanted by the rule of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Morsi was then toppled by the army in a popularly supported coup in July.
In the raid, carried out by a special branch of the police, six people were arrested and three computers confiscated, the rights group said. All but one of the detainees were later released, but the case sent ripples of concern through the rights-advocacy community.
“What is currently happening is a clear scenario of suppressing any voice trying to oppose the abuses being practiced” by authorities, said a statement released by 10 Egyptian rights organizations. It cited large numbers of arrests and “unrealistic trials” of dissenters.
Lawyers following the case were told the raid was due to an outstanding arrest warrant against Mohammed Adel, one of the center’s volunteers. Adel, who remained in custody, had been sought for violating a tough new anti-protest law.
About two dozen secular activists, some of them prominent in the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak, have been arrested under the law, which bans protests not approved in advance by the authorities.
Rights advocates said the manner in which the raid was carried out suggested that it could be the start of a wider campaign to intimidate them. Particularly worrying to them was the use of National Security forces, a police branch roughly analogous to the FBI, to carry out a search of the group’s offices.