CAIRO: Thousands of Egyptians hit the streets in Cairo and occupied the iconic Tahrir Square overnight against the “light” sentence given to ousted President Hosni Mubarak for complicity in the killing of protesters during the 2011 mass uprising and acquittal of his two sons.
84-year-old ailing former dictator was handed down life imprisonment along with his former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly Saturday by a Cairo court which, however, acquitted six former police commanders.
The court also dropped the separate corruption charges against Mubarak and his two sons Alaa and Gamal. But his sons will remain in detention as they are to be charged with stock-market manipulation.
A huge crowd of up to 20,000 people gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the birthplace of the uprising, Saturday night in protest against the verdict. Many protesters remained there overnight.
Similar protests were reported from the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria, Suez on the Red Sea and other parts of Egypt.
More than 100 people have been wounded in nationwide protests, officials were quoted as saying by BBC.
In Alexandria, over 500 people, including kin of those killed in last year’s uprising against Mubarak’s 30-year rule, protested on the stairs of the High Court in al-Mansheya district against the sentence given to the toppled leader.
The protesters chanted: “We don’t want much talk, we want a death sentence” for Mubarak, according to ‘Egypt Independent’.
The protesters expressed their dissatisfaction with the ruling saying it was not enough in the wake of the heinous crimes the defendants committed against protesters. Around 850 protesters had been killed during the 18-day revolt following which Mubarak was ousted on February 11, 2011.
In Aswan in southern Egypt, hundreds of members of the Revolutionary Youth Coalition and political parties staged marches to condemn the verdict.
They called for reviving the revolution, holding revolutionary trials of Mubarak and his former deputies and purging the judiciary of “corruption”.
Mr Wael Refaat, a lawyer and spokesperson for the Coalition of Revolution Youth, criticised the verdict, saying the ruling opens the door for the exoneration of Mubarak and Adly if their sentences are appealed.
Mr Mostafa Mandour, Secretary for Salafi-oriented Assala Party in Aswan, was quoted as saying, “The people are dissatisfied with the light sentences. The people are capable of returning to the streets.”
The verdict against Mubarak, the only dictator toppled in the Arab Spring to be tried in person, came ahead of the June 16-17 presidential runoff between his last prime minister Ahmed Shafiq and Mohammed Mursi of Muslim Brotherhood, a party which was legalised after the former President’s fall.
After the verdict was announced, Mursi declared the revolution must continue.
“All of us, my brothers, must realise in this period that the continuation of the revolution, and the revolutionaries’ staying put in their positions in the squares, is the only guarantee to achieve the goals,” he was quoted as saying before he joined the crowds in Tahrir Square for a brief period.
In a separate development, protesters stormed Shafiq’s campaign headquarters in south of Cairo.