The retrial of former Egyptian ruler Hosni Mubarak, convicted for his part in the murders of Tahir Square protesters and sentenced to life in prison last June, ended almost as soon as it began today. The judge recused himself from the case and referred it to a lower court.
It's still unclear why the judge stepped down. The Washington Post reports that Judge Mostafa Hassan Abdallah stepped down because "he is presiding over another case related to violence allegedly perpetrated during Egypt’s uprising" while Al Jazeera says it was because the judge "did not wish to embarrass himself." CNN, on the other hand, is reporting that the judge "quit the case over a medical condition." And the Guardian claims he "resigned on the grounds that any judgment he made would be viewed suspiciously because of his previous involvement in trials of Mubarak-era officials."
All outlets seem to agree that the decision was not well-received inside the courtroom, which erupted in shouts of protest as the judge walked out and Mubarak (who turned up in style, wearing a "white tracksuit" and "gold-rimmed aviator sunglasses") was loaded onto a helicopter and flown back to a military hospital.
Interest in Mubarak's trial and punishment seems to have waned over time, as memories of Tahir Square grow more distant and hope that Mubarak will ever be punished fades.
From the Washington Post:
Many others have also grown bored — or even sympathetic to Mubarak, who suffers from a litany of health problems — as the court case slowly winds its way through a second year, and many other former officials have been acquitted for lack of evidence.
“It’s a cold case. You and I have to follow it, but everyone else is tired of it,” said Saad Abdel Wahed, a retired head of the Giza Criminal Court.
And Al Jazeera:
Our correspondent said that although Egyptians had turned out to witness the proceedings, "many feel the country has more important things to worry about".
According to Egyptian law, because Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison in his first trial, that is the most severe punishment he would face if his retrial ever does happen and he were to be convicted again. It is not yet known when the retrial will continue.