Wednesday’s papers: Adly’s courtroom ‘buffoonery,’ Sharaf’s unfettered optimism, Mubarak’s feeble heart

“Finally, Adly in the dock,” reads the headline across Al-Akhbar’s frontpage. The state-owned paper takes obvious joy in reporting on the former interior minister Habib al-Adly’s trial, the initial stages of which began on Tuesday. Along with six of his former assistants, Adly faces charges of direct involvement in the killing and intimidation of protesters during the revolution. Although the trial was postponed to 21 May, Al-Akhbar’s front shows images from a preliminary session. One image portrays the father of a killed protester holding up his son’s shirt, along with a despondent-looking Adly. Words above the picture read “does he feel regret?”

“The prosecution calls for his execution, and witnesses chant: death to the mass murderer,” the paper’s headline declares.

The independent daily Al-Shorouk’s coverage of the trial appears tinted with a sense of frustration at the proceedings. “Authorities prevent journalists and martyrs’ family members from witnessing the accused in the dock,” the paper reports, before going on to describe altercations that repeatedly broke out between security officers and members of the public who had gathered to observe the trial. According to Al-Shorouk, the dock was constantly surrounded by several security officers who violently rebuked attempts by the public to approach the former officials who stood accused.

Events took a turn for the worse when a martyr’s father interrupted the proceedings by screaming accusations at Adly. “Several journalists swarmed around the man, attempting to take his picture,” Al-Shorouk reports, “only to have their camera phones confiscated by security officers, who also attacked them verbally.” The journalists threatened to stage a sit-in if their cameras were not returned.

Al-Wafd features details of the courtroom drama, describing a scene overrun by “complete buffoonery.” According to the independent daily, public defenders and bereaved family members tried to attack the dock holding Adly and his assistants, demanding the removal of the security cordon that stood between them. The tension reached a climax when spectators began chanting demands for ousted president Mubarak to join the accused in court. The ensuing chaos led to a 15-minute recess, after which it was announced that the trial would be postponed until 21 May, and resumed at a different location.

Meanwhile, Al-Wafd’s editor-in-chief Osama Heikal poses the question, “What would you do if the Egyptian presidency were to be held by one of Mubarak’s men?” in his editorial entitled “It’s raining candidates.” Heikal recognizes the fact that, in a fair and open election, anyone has the right to run for president, but also points out that the previous regime fell as a result of deep and widespread dissatisfaction, a situation which the nation “must be careful to avoid” in the run-up to elections. “Many of those once closest to Mubarak now have their eyes on the presidency,” Heikal warns, adding that “they are silently waiting for other candidates, who have already – and prematurely – announced their run for the presidency, to burn out.”

“Arresting Mubarak and his family members and investigating his cronies is not the end of the road,” Heikal stresses, adding that to believe so would result in “utter failure of the revolution.”

“Unfortunately, we Egyptians are a kind people, and quick to forgive and forget,” he writes.

In one of its leading stories, independent daily Al-Dostour quotes Prime Minister Essam Sharaf describing “reconciliation with the people” as his government’s main priority. After asserting Egypt’s current political “stability,” Sharaf went on to explain that the country was now dealing with reinstating the rule of law, and national faith in nobody being above it. Sharaf also expressed optimism in Egypt’s economic future, predicting that between 2020 and 2030, Egypt will become “one of the world’s 15 leading” economies.

Sharaf’s statements also served as Al-Ahram’s leading news story, with his announcement of a “national project to limit social disparity” occupying the headline. In his meeting with Kuwaiti Prince Sabbah al-Ahmed al-Sabbah, Sharaf asserted Egypt’s “multi-leveled” appreciation of Kuwaiti support, as well as his desire to reinforce mutual cooperation between the two nations, especially in regards to investment. For their part, the Kuwaiti representatives confirmed their support of Egypt as well as of the nation’s “current trajectory.”

Al-Ahram also reports that due to “security concerns” and Mubarak’s “critical medical condition,” the former president’s transfer to a military hospital would be delayed indefinitely. According to a statement made by Assistant Attorney General Adel al-Saeed, “developments in Mubarak’s medical condition have revealed that he’ll need to remain under constant observation,” which is only available at “certain hospitals with appropriate equipment and staff members specializing in intensive care.” The statement pledges to transfer him as soon his condition “stabilizes.”

Meanwhile, an anonymous “medical source” from the Sharm el-Sheikh hospital in which Mubarak currently resides confided to Al-Ahram that the former president’s health is “fluctuating” and that his current psychological condition is “very bad.”

“His only intake is his medicine, some juice, and some of the food his wife brings him,” the source claimed, while another added that Mubarak had to remain in intensive care due to his critical condition, which could result in “his heart stopping suddenly.”

Al-Ahram: Daily, state-run, largest distribution in Egypt

Al-Akhbar: Daily, state-run, second to Al-Ahram in institutional size

Al-Gomhorriya: Daily, state-run

Rose al-Youssef: Daily, state-run

Al-Dostour: Daily, privately owned

Al-Shorouk: Daily, privately owned

Al-Wafd: Daily, published by the liberal Wafd Party

Al-Arabi: Weekly, published by the Arab Nasserist party

Youm7: Weekly, privately owned

Sawt al-Umma: Weekly, privately owned

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