Sunday 25 June 2017

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak returns home after release from custody

Hosni Mubarak waves to supporters from his room at the Maadi Military Hospital (AP)
Hosni Mubarak waves to supporters from his room at the Maadi Military Hospital (AP)

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has returned home following his release from custody, security officials said, after legal proceedings that took years during which the country witnessed major upheaval.

An official said Mr Mubarak left the Armed Forces Hospital in Cairo's southern suburb of Maadi on Friday morning and went to his house in the upmarket district of Heliopolis under heavy security.

The 88-year-old was acquitted by the country's leading appeals court on March 2 of charges that he ordered the killing of protesters during the 2011 popular uprising that led to his removal.

Mr Mubarak's release marks a new chapter in the saga of a president whose people rose up against him, demanding the end of a 30-year rule hollowed out by corruption, economic inequities and reliance on feared security officials to keep its hold on power.

It also underscored how the aspirations of the Arab Spring movement that swept the region have bottomed out.

Six years on, the mass uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain and Syria have each failed in some way, leading to civil wars or failed states.

Mr Mubarak's lawyer, Farid el-Deeb, told the Egyptian daily Al-Masry al-Youm that the ailing former president returned home with his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, and the entire family, including Mr Mubarak's wife Suzanne, came together at his house to celebrate his return and have breakfast together.

He had served a three-year sentence for embezzling state funds while in detention in connection with the deaths of protesters.

A criminal court ruled in May 2015 to jail him for three years and fine him millions of Egyptian pounds following his conviction for embezzling funds earmarked for the maintenance and renovation of presidential palaces. The ruling was upheld by another court in January last year.

Prosecutors reopened another corruption case on Thursday, linked to allegations that Mr Mubarak received gifts from the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper worth 1 million US dollars (£800,000), along with his family members. The case had been closed but the prosecutors appealed and the case restarted.

The order to release him was the latest in a series of court rulings in recent years in Egypt that acquitted more than 20 Mubarak-era cabinet ministers, police chiefs and aides charged with corruption or in connection with the killing of 900 protesters during the uprising.

Some of those acquitted have made a comeback in public life, while others partially paid back fortunes they illegally amassed.

Activists say Mr Mubarak's acquittal of killing protesters has confirmed long-held suspicions that his trial - and those of scores of police who faced the same charge - would never bring the justice they demanded.

It has also, according to activists and Egypt's beleaguered rights campaigners, confirmed widely held suspicions that their "revolution" - as the uprising against Mr Mubarak was dubbed - had effectively been reversed by the government of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, a general-turned-politician, to restore the status quo in a country ruled undemocratically by men of military background for most of the past 60 years.

Powerful media figures loyal to Mr el-Sissi have relentlessly vilified the 2011 uprising as a conspiracy and demonised its leaders as foreign agents who pose a threat to the country's national security.

AP

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