Mubarak released from Tora prison
Deposed Egyptian leader has spent two years in numerous military hospitals
Egyptian army soldiers and medics escort former president Hosni Mubarak after he arrives at a military hospital in the southern suburb of Maadi on the outskirts of Cairo yesterday. REUTERS/Stringer
To the cheers of a handful of fans and the chagrin of waiting media, ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was lifted out of Tora prison in south Cairo yesterday by a blue-and-white medical helicopter, ferried to an ambulance and delivered to the handsome military hospital in Maadi, a comfortable residential suburb of the capital.
Since April 2011, when the 85 year old was detained on charges of corruption, abuse of power and complicity in the deaths of 846 demonstrators during the uprising of that time, he has been moved from one hospital to another and has not spent a day in prison.
The court had no alternative but to release him from the Tora prison hospital because, according to Egyptian law, a prisoner cannot be detained for more than two years without being convicted and sentenced, even for capital crimes. Mr Mubarak, whose initial trial began on August 3rd, 2011, was actually held for two years and 19 days.
On Sunday, he is set to appear in court over a life sentence for involvement in the killing of protesters, as the presiding appeal judge previously ruled the prosecution had failed to prove his case and ordered a retrial.
The independent Egyptian Organisation for Human Rights responded to his release by calling for the prosecutor to investigate torture, abuse, and deaths “committed under Mubarak’s regime” and documented by the group.
While some observers argued Mr Mubarak’s release was a victory for the “feloul”, the remnants of the military-backed regime he headed for nearly 30 years, Egyptians consulted by The Irish Times shrugged off the shift from one hospital to another.
Ahram Online columnist Dina Samak said, “If Mubarak was really free, people would be furious. They would see it as a sign the old regime is coming back.” People blamed Egypt’s detained president Mohamed Morsi for “failing to reform laws” that had prescribed Mr Mubarak’s release, she said. While he was in power, Mr Morsi had “described the police [who killed protesters] as being the heart of the revolution. People are confused”.
She suggested Mr Mubarak’s release on bail from Tora might be quid pro quo for billions in financial aid from Saudi Arabia, his ally.
Egyptians will not protest about Mr Mubarak’s shift because “they feel they cannot afford to anger the police or army right now” while the country was facing the Muslim Brotherhood challenge.
“The mainstream media is portraying the current situation as our war on terror, our 9/11,” she pointed out. According to official sources, 900 people, including 100 police, have died since the August 14th dispersal of Muslim Brotherhood encampments protesting Mr Morsi’s removal.