Hosni Mubarak freed in Egypt after six years in custody

Former dictator (88) returns home from military hospital after court acquittal

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak looking towards his supporters outside the area where he was hospitalised at Maadi military hospital on the outskirts of Cairo, in October 2016. Photograph:  Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak looking towards his supporters outside the area where he was hospitalised at Maadi military hospital on the outskirts of Cairo, in October 2016. Photograph: Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

 

Egypt’s ousted president Hosni Mubarak became a free man on Friday when he was released from custody at a military hospital in Cairo’s Maadi suburb and returned to his villa in the wealthy Heliopolis district.

His lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, said Mr Mubarak (88) had breakfast with family and friends, indicating the authorities had secretly spirited him through the capital’s streets early on the Friday holiday in order to avoid attracting attention, traffic jams and enemies.

At about the time he left hospital, one man died and his wife and two children were injured in an explosion near the hospital.

Early this month Egypt’s highest court acquitted Mr Mubarak of the charge of failing to prevent the deaths of 846 protesters in clashes with riot police and plain-clothes security agents during the 18-day uprising that ended his 30-year rule in 2011.

Following his fall on February 11th, Mr Mubarak repaired to his home in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh. Two months later, he was detained with his sons, Gamal and Alaa, for questioning over allegations of abuse of power and corruption.

He was ordered to stand trial and appeared before a special court in Cairo that August, at a time when Egyptians were still in the country’s streets and squares demanding the successor, military-dominated government carry out the objectives of the revolution – “freedom, bread and social justice”.

Aware that public opinion insisted on accountability for the misdeeds and repression of the Mubarak era, he and his sons were held in prison and treated as common criminals by being confined in the cage which serves as a dock in Egyptian courts.

The proceedings were televised in Egypt and around the world in a show of compliance with Egyptian popular demands. Mr Mubarak was the sole ruler brought down during the Arab Spring to be put on trial.

Prison sentence

In June 2012 he was convicted on the charge of involvement in the deaths of protesters and sentenced to 20 years in prison. Retrials began early in 2013, ending with his acquittal on March 2nd this year. The court not only declared him innocent but also rejected further calls for retrials and demands from families of victims to revisit civil suits.

In January, the high court had upheld a three-year prison sentence for Mr Mubarak and his sons on corruption charges. The sons were released as they had served the allotted time but Mr Mubarak remained at the military hospital, where he had resided since December 2012, until the authorities decided it was prudent to free him.

The Mubaraks still face prosecution for allegedly receiving gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars from Al-Ahram, the state-owned daily newspapers. Mr Mubarak is also banned from leaving Egypt due to investigations from the Illicit Gains Authority into an increase in his personal wealth after he was ousted.

Full circle

Egypt has come full circle since the removal of air chief marshal Mubarak. The country endured a brief period of Muslim Brotherhood rule under President Mohamed Morsi, who was removed in 2013 by the army following more mass protests.

In response the Brotherhood mounted mass marches and protests against the interim government installed by the military. In May 2014, Egyptians elected to the presidency armed forces chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. He has cracked down hard on both the Brotherhood and liberal dissenters.

Tens of thousands have been detained while Mr Mubarak and his entourage have been freed by the courts. There have, however, been few protests as the vast majority of Egyptians seek an end to instability, violence, and economic collapse.