“At first, there were cheers,” writes New Yorker correspondent Wendell Steavenson in a 6.2 posting. “Hosni Mubarak, President-Dictator of Egypt for thirty years, had been declared guilty, responsible for the killing of protesters during the January 25th revolution last year, and sentenced to life. Then the fine print of the verdict came down, and the mood of those gathered outside the court house, many of them families of the martyrs, shifted. Misgivings gave way to outrage.
“Mubarak and his Minister of Interior, Habib el-Adly, had been found guilty not of conspiracy to murder but of a failure to prevent the killing. Six senior Interior Ministry officials, the heads of various police divisions that had coördinated the response to the protests (water cannon, tear gas, bird shot, running people over in police vans, live bullets fired from police stations and in defense of the Ministry of Interior), were acquitted. The judge said that the prosecutor had failed to provide evidence that those shot had been killed with police bullets.
“Then there was the dismissal of the corruption charges over property acquired by Mubarak and his sons, Alaa and Gamal. According to the judge, the statute of limitations for this kind of fraud had expired.
“In his opening remarks, the presiding judge floridly praised the revolution, saying that Egypt’s youth had brought the country out of thirty years of darkness, and emphasized the court’s efforts to adjudicate fairly. But his rhetoric seemed in retrospect an exercise in ‘the lady doth protest too much.’ Last week, I spoke to a human-rights lawyer, who observed that although it’s sometimes possible to get a ruling against the interests of the state in one court or another (appellate, cassation, administration, civil), ultimately, in another court, the regime tends to prevail.
“‘You can win a battle, but not the war,’ the lawyer told me, wearily.
“Analyzing today’s verdicts, I have a sense that the deep state — the alliance between the military, the security services, the interlocking fiefdoms of ex-generals, senior bureaucrats, governors, and some businessmen — had served its interests.”