by Marwa Yahia, Mahmoud Fouly
CAIRO, Jan. 13 (Xinhua) -- Egypt's Court of Cassation's decision to accept an appeal by ousted ex-President Hosni Mubarak and his former Interior Minister Habib al-Adli on Sunday, increases the chances for their release, experts say.
On June 2, 2012, Cairo Criminal Court sentenced Mubarak and Adli to life terms for charges of killing protesters in the 18-day popular unrest in early 2011, which left more than 800 dead. Yet, Adli's six top assistants were acquitted.
"The court decision means Mubarak could be released or his sentence could be reduced," Rashid al-Gindi, legal expert and member of Lawyers Syndicate, told Xinhua.
According to legal rules, "those who submit an appeal to the Court of Cassation cannot face a punishment worse than their last sentence," Gindi explained.
The defense team for Mubarak and Adli said the evidence was not enough to convict them for life sentence, arguing that the witnesses' testimonies were contradictory and it was easy for the court to approve the appeals.
The retrial will be held at a different criminal court, and the first session may start within three or four months, according to some legal experts.
Mubarak was close to be temporarily released based on the court 's decision on Sunday. However, he has to be remanded 15 days pending further investigation in a corruption case regarding gifts worth over one million U.S. dollars he allegedly received every year from state-run Al-Ahram newspaper from 2006 to 2011. Therefore, his way to temporary freedom is blocked.
"According to the law, the defendant could be released unless he is detained in other cases," said Gindi.
Lawyer Mohamed Zarie, who is also a human rights activist and head of Arab Penal Reform Organization, told Xinhua that he believed Mubarak would not be released at all until retrial is done, regardless of legal considerations, describing his case as " special."
For his part, Hussein Abdel-Raziq, secretary-general of Tagmmu Party, said Mubarak's retrial meant new evidence to be introduced, calling on Egyptians to maintain calm until the final decision of the new court.
"The court decision represents a new page for all defendants in light of new evidence," Abdel-Raziq added.
The court decision comes a few days before the second anniversary of the Jan. 25 "uprising" that toppled Mubarak's rule. The day is expected to witness massive nationwide demonstrations against current President Mohamed Morsi amid political spilt between his supporters, mainly Islamists and conservatives, and his opponents of liberals, leftists and Copts.
Experts believe that the approval of Mubarak's appeal would provoke crowds to join the intended Jan. 25 demonstrations, especially that a lot of Egyptians are already unhappy with the performance of Morsi and his government.
However, Dr. Noha Bakir, political science professor at American University in Cairo (AUC), downplayed the intended protests, saying that people now focus more on the upcoming parliamentary elections and the recent clashes outside the presidential palace.
"Mubarak doesn't come on the top list of the protesters' priorities, bearing in mind his age and his deteriorating health," Bakir told Xinhua.
Ayman Abdel-Wahhab, researcher at Al-Aharm Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said Egypt had become a country of law and institutions and that everyone should accept the decision of justice. "Otherwise there would be no need for our uprising," he said.
If Mubarak will be ruled not guilty in the case of killing the protesters, it will raise many questions over those who were responsible, and the new administration should present the other involved parties in the crimes during the turmoil two years ago, said Abdel-Wahhab who predicted that Mubarak would be released.
"New Egypt requires more transparency and accountability to avoid suspicions in the future about the current ruling regime," he added.