Thursday, May 21, 2009

Death of a Businessman

I'm against capital punishment, and even more so with fishy cases like that of the guy who killed Layla Ghoufran's daughter and most recently Hisham Talaat Moustafa. The problem with such cases is that it's obvious there is something wrong with them, something doesn't add up and that presents what is referred to as reasonable doubt. 

The fact that there is reasonable doubt is enough to set someone free, and perhaps I'm not even asking that, only asking that he not be put to death. One of the many problems with the death sentence is that humans can make mistakes. We've heard non fictitious accounts of people being locked up for decades and then found to be free. It also gives room to malice. An unfair judge may put someone to death on purpose, the allowance of a death sentence gives power over life which man shouldn't have. Oddly enough the same people who advocate the death sentence may be against abortion. 

Sanctity of life, it's a phrase that's so overused to the point that its meaning may be diluted but the word sanctity is very powerful and I find it more spiritual than it is physical. But the spiritual world can have no meaning if it can't make its way to the physical world in one way or the other. I find it hard to imagine that both the murderer and the one who incited the murder should get the same sentence. Plus of course the details surrounding the case point to some kind of foul play or set up. Ever watched a movie where someone is being set up? The evidence is very powerful, very strong that it seems almost too easy. 

The man who killed took every positive step to ensure that he would be caught, despite the fact that he is ex police, how come? In any case, even if these are just delusions, it seems vicious and unfair to take away someone's life. I suppose the death penalty serves as something to deter people from committing such a crime. 

The world is such a jungle, it's worse, it is a place where people do evil things without necessity. The fact that people can do wrong in the world is something that I can accept, but that the law or what is supposed to be right is failing is something which we must not accept. It is our duty to try to reach perfection in our constitution and laws despite knowing for sure that we will not reach. But knowing that we will fall short is no excuse not to try our best. 

The death of a businessman reflects an extremity that is so characteristic of our country. In Egypt so many bad deeds go unpunished and when the law is implemented, it can take an extreme of being implemented with too much viciousness according to the whim of those entrusted with its implementation. We're extremists in our lethargy and in our viciousness. We turn a blind eye to many evils and when it comes to punishing, we kill even if there isn't enough proof and we burry alive those poor pigs who have done us no harm.  

Passiveness and aggression co-exist within the fabric of our society. It has seeped through like a sly venom, and I'm afraid flushing it out will be a monumental task that no one has begun.


Anonymous said...

I disagree. You say many other crimes go unpunished which is quite true but what distinguishes them is that they are crimes WITHIN Egypt. The judge was pushed to be harsh with this one because it took place abroad and needed to be punished for reasons of apperance.
I do think that Talaat Mostafa was guilty though and it is good that finally one of Egypt's corrupt businessmen will be punished instead of the usual way of buying their way out of trouble with big bucks and framing somebody else who didn't have quite the right wasta or enough money to counter.

Wael Eskandar said...

Hello 3abir, I'd like to know what you disagree with me about exactly.

Anonymous said...

basically I don't think there is any fishiness here...he is the exception that proves the rule of 1000s of businessmen literally getting away with murder.

Wael Eskandar said...

hmm... so you don't feel that the fact that Sokary, who used to work with the police left every kind of deliberate trace to link himself with the murder is the least bit suspicious?

Using a credit card to buy the murder weapon and something else just to make sure he's traced. Making sure the security cameras capture him as he went in and leaving his clothing there?

Well I don't mind that you disagree, but for me when it's too perfect, too easy, I get suspicious...

But even if he is guilty and the ex police guy is as stupid as he sounds, do you believe that the death penalty is appropriate?

insomniac said...

hey will... i am rather too skeptical of the reason behind the verdict than i am about the case itself...

i can see why you're against the death penalty, with the whole degree of error in any system... but i can't be against the death penalty given how some crimes are just horrible... i think we're both entitled to what we think that way...

however, aside from what the truth might be and whether the evidence is for real or not, i don't see anything wrong with hesham tal3at mostafa and sokkary getting the same sentence... when someone hires someone to kill it doesn't make him any less of a criminal... i think it is the same...

i liked your last paragraph, i agree :)

Wael Eskandar said...

Of course the debate about the death penalty is not easily resolved by a blog post... however, let me just point to something.

You say:
"i can't be against the death penalty given how some crimes are just horrible"

You've made an assumption that I totally disagree with, that the death penalty is the worst form of punishment. I think that death is too easy for someone who has inflicted horrible pain upon their victim, so death is just too easy.

I think that justice is having that person experience the same thing, or something equivalent and one death for a serial killer is not 'fair' .. so basically I'm against the death penalty because it's not fair to the victim.

Taking away a life doesn't necessarily mean ending it. (I know, I'm more brutal than I first appeared to be)

Anyway, we're both entitled to our way of thinking, but I just disagree with your assumption.

LouLou said...

I agree with you.

Have always struggled with the death penalty because it leaves no room to fix things if you've got the wrong guy.

If you send someone to prison and they later turn out to be innocent, you let them go. They can sue and seek recompense for wrong done against them. Amends can be made.

But if you've killed them, then there's no way to fix that and the state becomes the criminal rather than the protector.

I might accept the death penalty for war crimes. These are usually 'public', political crimes where there are hundreds or thousands of witnesses.

Otherwise, you would need 100% certainty of guilt and I don't see how the judicial process in our part of the world can ever produce that. With so little transparency and so much corruption, the room for judicial error is so much bigger.

And even deterrence is limited in effect because yes people know if you commit horrible crimes you'll get the death penalty. But they also know if you have the money and the connections, you can plant evidence and corrupt the process etc...

insomniac said...


you're much more brutal than you first came off i agree :) but i also agree with you that way!! yes, given 100% (or close enough) certainty that one is guilty, the best form of justice is to make them go through as much suffering as their victims endured... but that could be just too bloody to be applied!!

coming to think of it, perhaps the death sentence was first thought of as a way to promote the sanctity of life, the threat of taking one's life would somehow make people more careful about the lives of others... sadly, i doubt it works that way!!

and LouLou,

problem with any judicial system is that it can never be 100% error proof! and when someone is innocent, one day of imprisonment is more violation than i can imagine....

as for political or war crimes, i never trust there is any sense of justice in anything politics related... i generally don't think there's room for justice with such power pressure, but i am just cynical!

LouLou said...


The death penalty - in my opinion -should only have two purposes:

1 - Protecting society from someone who is proven to be disposed to murder and is likely to repeat it.

2 - To deter others who maybe similarly disposed.

In a non-transparent judicial system - with no reliable checks and balances, neither purpose is served because:

1 - You can never be sure the person being prosecuted is the guilty party and not some innocent, politically convenient scapegoat.

2 - People know the system can easily be manipulated so there is not much deterrence really.

And so the death penalty in these cases has no useful purpose and is just state-sponsored murder, in my opinion.

Yes, no judicial system can be 100%error-free. However, since we are only human, any system we establish has to have checks and balances and built-in means of correcting itself. In non-transparent judicial systems, that is not there - which makes the margin of error even wider - and so, 'irreversible punishments' become even more unacceptable.

As for warcrimes or crimes against humanity, I don't think anyone can doubt that Hitler was guilty. Or Pinochet. Or the Rwanda war criminals. Or the Bosnia war criminals. Those were crimes that were committed more or less in public - for the entire world to see by people who felt so immune to justice that they didn't even feel the need to commit their crimes in secret. Perpetrators of war crimes often took pride in documenting and publicizing their crimes because they thought they would be in power forever.

And there is a clear benefit to the death penalty in these cases - which is to help reconciliation and peace. If someone has committed mass murder against another faction or race - and the law fails to punish him, then the victim faction or race will lose faith in the law and feel compelled to take the law into their own hands. War will not stop without justice - or the perception of justice. So in such cases, yes, executing one person may eventually save hundreds of thousands of lives. And it might be worth taking the relatively low risk of error.

This is one reason why - in the ME - we have brutal regimes and we keep producing opposition parties that are even more brutal. The opposition get radicalized by the regime's brutality against them - and the law's inability to protect them - and so they feel justified in 'going underground' and being even more bloody as a result.

No society will ever be able to break free from this cycle of violence and counter-violence - until there is justice everyone can believe in.

Wael Eskandar said...

I'm with you on this LouLou, that the death sentence should apply to those with venomous ideas or lust for power that cause masses to be killed. The perpetrators should have to be clear on those ideas and preach them publicly to others to make sure they're not unfairly tried.

This way killing is not a punishment but a solution and a deterrence to others.

A system that cannot guarantee justice should at least try to avoid being criminal.

Rasha* said...

Back to Talaat mustafa, again...Money and power collide...and again, it's stinky
And since it's - in my opinion - so weaved with the government in so many ways:
- politically: UAE which is a major deal btw and Talaat mustafa's business that has been the most powerful in the Egyptian real estate market
- The tight relationship with Alaa and gamal Mubarak.
- Timing, after the Mamdoo7 Ismail case and such related business men with the government cases.
- and last, the case is immoral beyond "passion killing" (stereotypical yet true)as how Lebanese or not women and artists and their continuous link with men of money and power reflect corruption...
All that make the case fishy especially that: Talaat mustafa's lawyer strangely ties his defense with Elsokary's and that is a MAJOR legal flaw!!!
Will, sokary would never be that stupid, a lawyer like aldeeb would never be that stupid and this government would never be that - fake- fair.
So, innocent or not...this verdict is weired...this whole case is rotten and a mirror of how things have degraded in our country!
Therefore, the death penalty in this particular case can't be taken lightly even if it is just a camouflage!

Innate_Inanenuss said...

I tend to be a tad on the anti-death penalty group side, but for diff. I think that execution has never stopped any crime..and never will. I think it just masks our fear of those we have forgotten about...of the frankesteins we have raised amongst us.
Criminals...mmm tab nearly all of them are byproducts of the society they happen to be in...their nature garbled by the conditions n circumstances they were born to find. I think that criminals shudnt be z only ones held responsible for their crimes and thus be offered as scapegoats to the hereafter...I think we all as a society...or more accurately we as equal shareholder of this status-quo that we have manufactured, nurtured and let grow are responsible for our bad seeds i,e; criminals...

I say we first create a society that's founded upon the values of justice, love, equality and freedom before we start hanging those whom we have irreparably molested by our negligence. Till then, believe me it does not make much of a diff. whether we legislate execution or not...cos they're gonna keep coming backCriminals r made and not born.