The trial of former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak began today. Mubarak is being tried in Egypt's regular court system, despite the existence of an alternate, military court system set up by his 1981 emergency law. Unlike the thousands of protesters who have since been tried in the military system, Mubarak will be getting a fair trial.
Egypt's military court system has long been a target of human-rights activists, because it has tried civilians, sometimes dissidents, for "crimes" like "insulting the military" that aren't crimes in any recognizable sense let alone violations of the laws of war.
Some of those criticisms can be extended to Guantanamo's military commissions, although that system, while still unfair, doesn't reach the kangaroo factor of Egypt's military courts. However, many citizens of Arab countries associate military proceedings with the railroading that occurs in courts set up by Egypt's emergency law.
Egypt's Supreme Council of the Armed Forces presumably understands this, which is part of why Mubarak is getting a fairer trial than thousands of people who took to the streets to oust him. That sends a very clear message to the region -- the exact opposite message sent by the decision to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other alleged 9/11 co-conspirators by military commission at Guantanamo. In the eyes of many outside the U.S., that trial will look like Mubarak's kind of justice.
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