Mubarak could be freed from jail 'within 48 hours'
Militants kill at least 24 policemen in Egypt’s Sinai
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak waves to supporters from inside a cage in a courtroom at the police academy in Cairo, in this file picture taken in April this year. Photograph: Reuters
Egypt’s former president Hosni Mubarak is expected to be released from jail within days after prosecutors cleared him in a corruption case, his lawyer said today.
Mr Mubarak (85) was arrested after a popular uprising overthrew him on February 11th, 2011 as unrest spread across the Arab world.
More than a year on, the only legal grounds for Mr Mubarak’s continued detention rest on another corruption case which his lawyer, Fareed el-Deeb, said would be settled swiftly.
“All we have left is a simple administrative procedure that should take no more than 48 hours. He should be freed by the end of the week,” Mr Deeb said.
European Union foreign ministers agreed today to meet on Wednesday to discuss relations with Egypt. The EYU warned yesterday that that an escalation of violence in the country could have “unpredictable consequences.”
The EU will “urgently review” its relations with Egypt with the goal of promoting an end to violence and the resumption of political dialogue in the country, EU President Herman Van Rompuy and European Commission President Jose Barroso said in a joint statement yesterday.
EU diplomats are meeting in Brussels to review how best to leverage some €5 billion of promised grants and loans in a bid to apply pressure on Cairo’s army-backed government to find a compromise.
Earlier suspected Islamist militants killed at least 24 Egyptian policemen today in the Sinai peninsula, where attacks on security forces have multiplied since the army overthrew president Mohamed Morsi on July 3rd.
Three policemen were also wounded in the grenade and machinegun attack near the north Sinai town of Rafah on the border with Israel, medical and security sources said.
The attack underlined the challenges facing Egypt’s new rulers, locked in a struggle with Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood in which at least 850 people have been killed since the security forces opened fire at pro-Mursi protest camps last week.
Mounting insecurity in Sinai has worried the United States because the area lies next to Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, as well as the Suez Canal.
At least 36 Islamists died in government custody yesterday, in an incident that the Muslim Brotherhood described as “murder” and the authorities claimed was a thwarted jailbreak.
“The murders show the violations and abuses that political detainees who oppose the July 3rd coup get subjected to,” said the Brotherhood.
The Interior Ministry said 36 Brotherhood detainees had been suffocated by tear gas during an attempted prison breakout near Cairo.
A legal source said 38 men had died from asphyxiation in the back of a crammed police van.
A senior EU official who asked not to be identified said the US, Europe and Gulf Arab states had only limited influence on the generals in charge in Egypt.
The US, an ally of Egypt since it made peace with Israel in 1979, has postponed delivery of four F-16 fighters and scrapped a joint military exercise, but has not halted its $1.55 billion in annual aid, spent mostly on US-made arms supplies.
However, Republican and Democrat U.S. lawmakers, some of them reversing the stances they had espoused before last week’s crackdown in Egypt, said on Sunday the aid should be suspended. “For us to sit by and watch this happen is a violation of everything that we stood for,” said Senator John McCain, a former Republican presidential nominee.