Egypt is still plagued by cronyism and the long master of autocracy has been saved and democratic forces have been crushed brutally. The Egyptian revolution has come full circle today. The former Egyptian dictator, Hosni Mubarak, whose overthrow came to symbolise the promise of the Arab Spring, has been cleared of the murder of hundreds of protesters who called for his removal in 2011. This is a sad reality check for those who struggled in 2011 for democratic rights. A court in Cairo ruled that it did not have jurisdiction over what it judged to be politically motivated charges, and dismissed the case. The judgement overturns the life sentence Mubarak received in 2012. He will face no punishment for the alleged sanctioning of the murder of 846 protesters during the uprising or for allegedly profiting from the export of gas at below-market rates. Mubarak was also acquitted of several other corruption charges and to add insult to injury, several senior Mubarak-era police officials and Mubarak’s sons, Gamal and Alaa, have also been acquitted at the same time.

Whether the legal process was flawed or not is up for debate. Though the judiciary may have been partial, legal experts said that the charges against Mubarak had been flawed from the start. They were rushed to court to appease public demands for retribution against him after his ouster. The case just wasn’t sound enough. The murder charges for directing police to kill unarmed protesters were difficult to prove as the Egyptian military’s chain of command has many layers and broad latitude for self-defense is given to the police. The corruption charges were also thrown together hastily. Though Mubarak may well be guilty, it was not proven in court.

For the future of Egypt’s revolutionaries, this decision is the pinnacle of a counter-revolution overseen by the country’s new president, Abdel Fatah al-Sisi who was head of military intelligence under Mubarak. The man in charge may have changed but nothing else has. It is absurd to ask authoritarian regimes to judge their own leaders and then expect justice to be done.