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Killing of Protesters Case (Mubarak)

Court / Presiding Judge

First Review: Cairo Criminal Court/Judge Ahmed Refaat
Second Review: Cairo Criminal Court/Judge Kamel al-Rashidy
Final Review: Court of Cassation/Judge Ahmed Abdel Qawy

Procedural History

In March 2011, former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six former Interior Ministry officials were accused of orchestrating the deaths of at least 846 protesters during the January 25 Revolution; Mubarak was added to the case in May 2011. The court issued its verdict upon first review on June 2, 2012. On November 29, 2014, upon second review, the court dismissed the case against Mubarak, effectively acquitting him of all charges. On June 4, 2015, the Court of Cassation ordered a final review of the case. The final sentence was issued on March 2, 2017.


Upon first review, Mubarak and Adly were sentenced to life in prison; Adly’s aides were acquitted of all charges. Upon second review, the court dismissed the case against Mubarak. Following a final review, the Court of Cassation acquitted Mubarak entirely.

Summary of Reasoning

In November 2014, Mubarak was acquitted of the charges against him after the court ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to review what it regarded to be a politically motivated case. The court again acquitted Mubarak in March 2017. He had initially been found guilty in 2012 for being an “accessory to murder” when he failed to stop the killing of protesters; the judge had held that Mubarak and his aides had not directly ordered the killing of protesters, hence the “accessory” charge.

Anecdotal Notes

Although nearly 900 protesters were said to have been killed in the events in question, the charge sheet against Mubarak only involved the death of 239 protesters. Further, lawyers argued that the review of the case after the initial sentencing was accepted on narrow grounds; thus, the acquittals that followed thereafter were expected.

Legal & Judicial Implications

The determination that a defendant is an “accessory to murder” does not have much precedent in Egyptian law. Because of this technicality, some lawyers argue that acquittals in the case became more likely. Further, by not indicting Mubarak from the beginning of the case, some argue that the prosecution made “an implied decision that there were no grounds for criminal proceedings” against Mubarak. While this “no-grounds” decision could have been formally reversed by the prosecutor-general, some argue that the prosecution did not follow the proper procedures, thus paving the way for reversals and, ultimately, acquittals.