CAIRO: Egypt’s ousted president, Hosni Mubarak was on Saturday sentenced to life in prison after a court here found him guilty of complicity in the killing of protestors during a popular uprising against his 30-year rule, capping months of legal proceedings against the first Arab leader to be tried in person.
Eighty four-year-old ailing former dictator, who was wheeled into the courtroom on a stretcher after being flown here from a military-run hospital, got life imprisonment – 25 years in jail – along with his former interior minister, Habib al-Adly, who was convicted for the same charge.
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, Mr Ahmed Shafiq and Muslim Brotherhood’s Mr Mohammed Morsi.
Six former police commanders – Maj Gen Ahmed Mohamed Ramzy Abdel Rashid, Maj Gen Adly Mostafa Fayed, Maj Gen Hassan Abdel Rahman, Maj Gen Ismael al-Shaer, Maj Gen Osama al-Marassy and Maj General Omar al-Farmawy – were acquitted by the court, which also dropped separate corruption charges against Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal. Mubarak and his sons were acquitted of all financial crime charges because ten years have passed since the alleged crimes were committed.
Clad in a beige track-suit, the former president, who was wearing dark sunglasses, showed no emotion when chief judge Mr Justice Ahmed Refaat read out the verdict, but his sons appeared close to tears.
The Prosecutor General ordered Mubarak to be transferred to Tora prison to spend his sentence, amid reports that the former president’s lawyers will file an appeal against the verdict. Eyewitnesses were quoted as saying that a tearful Mubarak resisted stepping out of the helicopter that flew him to the prison after the verdict was announced.
Over 800 protestors had been killed during the 18-day revolt following which Mubarak was ousted on February 11, 2011. Handing down the sentence to Mubarak and al-Adly, judge Mr Justice Refaat said that the 10-month trial had been a fair one. He said Egyptian people had suffered 30 years of darkness under Mubarak’s rule.
The Interior Ministry had taken special measures to secure the premises of the court where the trial had taken place. The wall around the police academy in New Cairo, a satellite city around the capital, had been raised to four metres in addition to another metre of barbed wire. The court had also refused to issue any new permits to cover the trial and kept the coverage exclusive for state-owned TV.
After the verdict was announced, scuffles between rival groups erupted in the court. Lawyers representing the families of those killed in last year’s uprising exploded in protest inside the courtroom, as al-Adly’s six deputies had escaped conviction. They chanted: “The people demand the purging of the judiciary!” and “Illegitimate!” as scuffles broke in the courtroom. Reactions outside the courtroom were mixed. Some families of those killed in the uprising chanted, “We got our retribution,” while others demanded execution for the former president and al-Adly.