Mubarak gets life behind bars

2012-06-02 17:08

Egyptian leader deposed during the Arab Spring suffers heart attack shortly after verdict

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak went straight from the courtroom where he was convicted to a prison hospital in Cairo yesterday.

A judge convicted former Mubarak of complicity in the killings of ­protesters during the uprising that ended his 30-year rule and ­sentenced him on Saturday to life in prison.

Shortly after the verdict he suffered a heart attack and was flown to a prison hospital.

It was the first time a deposed Arab leader had faced an ordinary court in person since a wave of ­uprisings shook the Arab world last year, sweeping away four ­entrenched rulers.

The ruling came at a politically fraught time for Egypt, two weeks before a run-off in its first free­ ­presidential election that will pit the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned under Mubarak, against the deposed autocrat’s last prime minister.

Mubarak, propped up on a ­hospital stretcher and wearing dark sunglasses, heard the verdict with a stony expression. He had been wheeled into the cage used in Egyptian courtrooms. The other defendants stood.

Demonstrators outside the court, many of whom had been ­demanding the death penalty for Mubarak, greeted the verdict with fireworks and cries of “Allahu ­akbar (God is great)”.

Soha Saeed, the wife of one of about 850 people killed in the street revolt that toppled Mubarak on February 11 2011, shouted: “I’m so happy. I’m so happy.”

Some people inside the court who had wanted a death sentence scuffled with guards, decrying the Mubarak-era judiciary. “The ­people want the judiciary cleansed!” they chanted.

Judge Ahmed Refaat opened the proceedings by calling the start of Mubarak’s trial on August 3 a ­“historic day”. He hailed Egyptians for removing the only leader many of them had known.

“The people of Egypt woke on Tuesday, January 25, to a new dawn, hoping that they would be able to breathe fresh air . . . after 30 years of deep, deep, deep ­darkness,” he told the court.

Silence fell over the courtroom in the moments before Refaat ­announced his verdict. The crowd outside then erupted in joy. ­Anti-Mubarak demonstrators and a smaller crowd of his supporters threw stones at each other and at police.

The judge also sentenced ­Mubarak’s former interior minister, Habib al-Adli, to life in prison. He sentenced Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal, to time already served after convicting them on some corruption charges and ­acquitting them on others. Six ­security officials were acquitted.

Many Egyptians are angry that the hated police force, blamed for many of the deaths in the uprising, and other pillars of Mubarak’s rule survived his downfall intact.

A helicopter had flown Mubarak to the court on the outskirts of Cairo from the military-run hospital where he has been held in custody.

Egyptian state television said the prosecutor-general had ­ordered that Mubarak be transferred to prison to serve his sentence.

His co-defendants have been held for months in a Cairo prison.

Hundreds of police with riot shields and batons surrounded the police academy where the ­10-month trial has been held.

“Enough talk – we want execution!” protesters chanted outside before the verdict.

In a June 16 and 17 run-off, Ahmed Shafiq, an ex-air force chief like Mubarak, will face the ­Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi.

Shafiq has called his former boss a role model. His Islamist rival says that if he becomes president he will ensure enough evidence is ­produced to keep Mubarak behind bars for life. By the time of going to the press no details on Mubarak’ condition was available.

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