- (Photo: Reuters/Stringer)
Ousted President Hosni Mubarak faces final sentencing in his six-month court trial on Saturday, just as Egypt is wrapping up its first ever democratic presidential election. Observers have expressed concern that if Mubarak is cleared of charges in the deaths of hundreds of Arab Spring protesters, riots might ensue.
Mubarak, 83, has been accused of complicity in the killing of about 850 protesters during the early days leading up to the Jan. 25, 2011 revolution, during which the president was ousted from power.
Mubarak is also accused of corruption, along with his two sons, Gamal and Alaa. They have all pleaded not guilty to their charges. If found guilty, Mubarak could face the death penalty.
The current presidential election in Egypt has caused a rift between Egyptian civilians, as the election's final showdown is between the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi and former prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, who was appointed to the post by Mubarak and was, at one time, the former leader's protégé.
"There's already a lot of anti-Shafik anger," Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, told Bloomberg Businessweek.
"If you put the Mubarak trial on top of that I think that could be a serious recipe for unrest," Hamid added.
Many critics fear that Mubarak's sentencing could further divide Egyptians, possibly resulting in mass protests and riots.
"We are so eagerly awaiting the verdict," George Ishaq, a popular critic of former president Mubarak, told The Associated Press.
"An innocent verdict will trigger a horrific reaction," Ishaq added.
According to the AP, a guilty verdict on Saturday could lead to endearing feelings toward Shafiq, who has vowed to not repeat the hostility and oppression of the Mubarak regime.
An innocent verdict, however, would cause protesters to riot, believing their revolutionary tactics of the Arab Spring uprisings were done in vain, according to observers.
Evidently, the Mubarak trial still holds a strong grip on the current events of Egypt, ironically after Mubarak was ousted from power to prevent his further control of the nation.
Mubarak, who has suffered from heart problems since the beginning of the trial, has attended several hearings while lying in a hospital gurney.
The final round of Egypt's presidential elections is to occur on June 16 and 17, marking the country's final phase in its transition to democracy.