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Support grows for hosting Mubarak

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Support grows for hosting Mubarak
Photo: DPA
13:59 CET+01:00
More German politicians are supporting allowing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to come to Germany for medical treatment in the hopes it might calm the turmoil his country. But a human rights activist is preparing to press charges against him.

“The federal government should give a signal to Mubarak that he can come to Germany if he wants to,” Elmar Brok, a conservative member of the European Parliament, told the Frankfurter Rundschau daily.

“If that is a way to help bring about a peaceful transition in Egypt, we should do it.”

Over the past few days, there has been intense media speculation Mubarak might leave Egypt and come to Germany for a prolonged medical check-up.

The New York Times reported that US government officials and Egyptian military officials have held secret talks regarding the matter. Der Spiegel said that plans for a possible hospital stay in Germany appear to be more concrete than previously believed and that a luxury clinic near the resort town of Baden-Baden is being considered.

It would not be the first time Germany has put out the welcome mat for an embattled strongman. In 2003, the overthrown president of Georgia, Edward Shevardnadze, was given the option of coming to Germany after being forced to resign in the wake of the so-called Rose Revolution there. He did not accept the invitation.

Over the weekend, several other politicians said an extended medical leave in Germany might be a good way to provide the 82-year-old Egyptian leader with a dignified way to leave the country.

Andreas Schockenhoff, the deputy head of Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservative parliamentary group, and Elke Hoff, security spokesperson of the Free Democrats, said over the weekend they were open to the idea.

Over to the left of the political spectrum, European parliamentarian Martin Schulz of the Social Democrats (SPD) said allowing Mubarak to spend time at a German clinic could be a good way to ease a very volatile situation in the Middle Eastern nation.

“Why not? I'm in favour of any measures that will contribute to a dignified departure and facilitate the transition in Egypt,” he said.

Others wanted to be certain, however, that any stay in Germany would be a temporary one.

“An exile in Germany would be very problematic,” said Rainer Stinner, the FDP's foreign policy expert.

And others were against hosting the authoritarian president all together, even for a limited period of time.

“That's about the last thing that the Egyptians expect us to do,” Jürgen Trittin of the Green party told the Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung. His party's head, Cem Özdemir, was also sceptical. “Germany should not become a luxury haven for failed despots,” he said.

Mubarak has some experience in German clinics, having been in the country for medical treatment at least twice. In 2010 he had his gallbladder and an intestinal polyp removed at Heidelberg's University Clinic. There are rumours that he suffers from cancer.

But should the Egyptian president be allowed to come to Germany, one human rights activist he will face charges in court.

“We have to assume that over the last few years or decades, torture has been widespread in Egypt and it happened under Mubarak's watch,” said Wolfgang Kaleck, general secretary of the European Centre for Constitutional and Human Rights.

He said that German law requires authorities to pursue criminal prosecutions against suspects who are resident in Germany.

Kaleck, himself a lawyer, sought criminal prosecution charges in German court in 2006 against a number of US officials in connection with alleged human rights abuses at the prison facilities at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, including former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

DPA/The Local/kdj

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