Don ‘t expect too much clarity from Mubarak’s trial

I’ve written a piece providing some background on Mubarak’s trial for Foreign Affairs, and another piece for the Economist on the impact of the trial.

One other article in Foreign Policy which I strongly recommend deals with the format of the trial: it will not be viewer-friendly.

Egyptian courtroom procedure is nothing like an American jury trial, where all the relevant evidence is read into the courtroom record. Rather, much of the evidence is submitted in written form, and then discussed in court. This makes it very hard for an observer without access to the dossier of evidence and other key documents to follow what is going on. As I understand it, the judges must write down in detail their reasons for the verdict, but that document can be difficult to obtain.

This is a bit of a problem, particularly in high-profile cases like Mubarak’s. Courts need legitimacy, and one way to obtain legitimacy is for observers to be able to watch the trial and agree that yes, the verdict was based on a reasonable interpretation of the evidence.

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