The acquittal of six security chiefs, on trial with Hosni Mubarak over the killing of protesters last year, fails to deliver justice and could continue to encourage a culture of police impunity, rights groups said on Saturday.
Ousted leader Mubarak and his interior minister Habib al-Adly were sentenced to life in prison, but the six security commanders were found innocent.
Mubarak’s sentence “is a significant step towards combating long-standing impunity in Egypt” but the security chiefs’ acquittal “leaves many still waiting for full justice,” Amnesty International said in a statement.
“Many see the acquittal of all the senior security officials as a sign that those responsible for human rights violations can still escape justice,” Amnesty said.
Judge Ahmed Refaat earlier sentenced Mubarak to life in prison after convicting him of involvement in the murder of protesters during the uprising that ousted him last year.
A senior lawyer for Mubarak’s defense team told AFP the strongman, who was taken to the Cairo prison after the hearing, will appeal the sentence.
Also given a life term for the killings was the 84-year-old former strongman’s interior minister Habib al-Adly, while six ex-police commanders were acquitted.
“The verdict fails to deliver justice, it fails to deter police from future abuse and it comes against the backdrop of acquittals in police trials,” Heba Morayef, Cairo-based researcher for Human Rights Watch, told AFP.
“Today’s verdict will continue to protect the impunity of the interior ministry for violence against protesters,” she said.
Corruption charges against Mubarak’s sons Alaa and Gamal were dropped due to the expiry of a statute of limitations, and the former president was acquitted in one of the graft cases.
“Every law student has heard of the statute of limitations, yet prosecutors conveniently forgot about this in referring Gamal and Alaa Mubarak to trial,” Morayef said.