SARAH EL DEEB
CAIRO (AP) -- An Egyptian fact-finding mission determined that Hosni Mubarak watched the uprising against him unfold through a live TV feed at his palace, despite his later denial that he knew the extent of the protests and crackdown against them, a member of the mission said Wednesday.
The mission's findings increase pressure for a retrial of the 84-year old ousted president, who is already serving a life sentence for the deaths of 900 protesters. But its report could hold both political gains and dangers for his successor, Mohammed Morsi. A new prosecution of Mubarak would be popular, since many Egyptians were angered that he was convicted only for failing to stop the killing of protesters, rather than for ordering the crackdown.
But the report also implicates the military and security officials in protester deaths. Any move to prosecute them could spark a backlash from powerful generals and others who still hold positions under Morsi's government.
Rights activists said they would watch carefully how aggressively Morsi pursues the evidence, detailed by a fact-finding mission he commissioned.
"This report should be part of the democratic transformation of Egypt and restructuring of security agencies," Ahmed Ragheb, a member of the commission and a rights lawyer, told The Associated Press. "At the end of the day, there will be no national reconciliation without revealing the truth, and ensuring accountability."
Morsi, an Islamist from the Muslim Brotherhood, asked the commission to send the report to the chief prosecutor Talaat Abdullah to investigate new evidence, his office said Wednesday.
Morsi recently appointed Abdullah to replace a Mubarak holdover who many considered an obstacle to strongly prosecuting former regime officials. Some judges criticized the appointment as a political move to continue to wield leverage over the prosecutor post.
The case will be a test whether Abdullah will conduct a thorough process of holding officials responsible. Some rights activists were already disappointed that Morsi didn't empower the fact-finding commission itself to turn the investigations into prosecutions and avoid political influence.
The 700-page report on protester deaths the past two years was submitted Wednesday to Morsi by the commission, made up of judges, rights lawyers, and representatives from the Interior Ministry and the intelligence, as well as families of victims.
Morsi formed the commission soon after coming to office in June as Egypt's first freely elected president after campaign promises to order retrials of former regime figures if new evidence was revealed.
The trial of Mubarak and other figures from his regime left the public deeply unconvinced justice was done. The prosecution was limited in scope, focusing only on the first few days of the 18-day uprising and on two narrow corruption cases. Lawyers have since criticized the case as shoddy, based mainly on evidence collected by battered and widely hated police in the days following the uprising.
In the verdicts last summer, Mubarak and his two sons were acquitted on corruption charges. His former interior minister was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for complicity in the crackdown, while six top security aides were acquitted for lack of evidence.
Mubarak was convicted to a life sentence of failing to prevent the deaths of protesters during the uprising, which ended with his fall on Feb. 11, 2011. Many Egyptians believed he should have been held responsible for ordering the killings, in addition to widespread corruption, police abuse and political wrongdoing under his regime.
One key new finding by the commission was that Mubarak closely monitored the crackdown.
Ragheb said state TV had designated an encrypted satellite TV station that fed live material from cameras installed in and around Tahrir Square directly to Mubarak's palace throughout clashes between protesters and security forces.
"Mubarak knew of all the crimes that took place directly. The images were carried to him live, and he didn't even need security reports," said Ragheb. "This entails a legal responsibility" in the violence against the protesters, including the infamous Camel Battle, where men on horses and camel and other Mubarak supporters stormed Tahrir.
At least 11 people are said to have been killed in that attack, and some 25 former ruling party members tried in the case were acquitted.
In questioning for his trial, Mubarak said he was kept in the dark by top aides as to the gravity of the situation, and fended off charges that he ordered or knew of the deadly force.
Khaled Abu Bakr, another lawyer who represented some of the victims in the uprising, said a retrial could "add more jail time if new charges appeared, and it could also change the penalty from life sentence to the death penalty."