Decision to release Mubarak will not be contested by prosecutor
Fears that former Egyptian president’s release would signal return to military rule
Egyptians outside the police academy in Cairo watch a live video feed of the trial of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak and his sons in August 2011. An Egyptian court yesterday ordered Mubarak released from prison, saying all appeals by prosecutors to keep him behind bars had been exhausted. Photograph: Ed Ou/The New York Times
Egypt’s prosecutor will not appeal against yesterday’s court ruling to release ousted president Hosni Mubarak (85) from Tora prison where he has been held on charges of corruption and complicity in the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising against him.
“The decision to release Mubarak . . . is final and the prosecution cannot appeal against it,” stated judge Ahmed El-Bahrawi.
On Tuesday, Mr Mubarak’s lawyer, Farid El-Deeb, requested his release on bail pending an investigation of charges that while in office he received millions of dollars in gifts from official daily Al-Ahram. He has since repaid the value of the gifts.
He has already received releases involving cases dealing with graft, embezzling funds earmarked for renovating presidential palaces, and failing to prevent the killing of 846 protesters. He was granted a retrial in the latter case after he was sentenced to life in prison last year. While the retrial began in May he has served the maximum in pretrial detention permitted in the case. He remains subject to a travel ban and his assets continue to be frozen.
While some analysts argue that Mr Mubarak’s release would signal a return to military government, others contend if Mr Mubarak were to be freed, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians would return to the streets to protest. This could be particularly dangerous at this time of high tension over the crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood.
The latest Brotherhood figure to be detained is Safwat Hegazy, a cleric from the ultraconservative Salafi camp allied to the Brotherhood, who preached fiery sermons against the military, Christians and secularists. He was arrested trying to cross into Libya.
Mourad Ali, a spokesman for the Brotherhood’s political party, was held at Cairo airport while trying to board a flight to Italy.
Meanwhile, hundreds of Muslim Brotherhood supporters continue to stage protests against the removal of president Mohamed Morsi, a Brotherhood veteran, and the crackdown on the six-week long encampments dispersed by the security forces last week.
The Brotherhood has called on Egyptians to designate tomorrow the “Friday of Martyrs” and demonstrate against Mr Morsi’s removal and detention seven weeks ago. The Brotherhood-led alliance claiming “legitimacy” stated, “We wail remain steadfast on the road to defeating the military coup.”
While reaffirming the right to engage in peaceful protest, Egypt’s interim prime minister Hazem Beblawi has proposed the formation of a committee made up of figures from political parties and civil society organisations to rebuild the country.