Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—In a step expected to cause further political turmoil in Egypt, on Wednesday an Egyptian court ordered former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s release.
Mubarak was being tried on charges of accepting lavish gifts as bribes from the national Al-Ahram newspaper.
The former president has not yet been released, as the court is waiting to find out whether Egypt’s ousted dictator will be convicted on other charges.
Mubarak, together with his two sons Gamal and Alaa, has been detained in Tora Prison south of the Egyptian capital of Cairo for 28 months, following the popular uprising in January 2011 that ousted his regime.
The order for release was issued because the former president had served the maximum amount of pre-trial detention permitted in all of the cases against him, including charges of corruption, illicit gain, and complicity in the killing of protesters in 2011.
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, an Egyptian judicial source informed Asharq Al-Awsat that Mubarak being released does not mean he is innocent, stressing that “justice is blind” and that the decision “has nothing to do what is happening in the [country’s] political arena.”
“Under the law, the judicial authority cannot rule to renew [Mubarak’s] detention, just like any other accused person, even if the public prosecution appeals against the ruling to release him.”
“[This is true unless] new charges against Mubarak emerge,” the source added.
The source said that the ruling “is final and the prosecution cannot appeal against it,” since it was issued by the Court of Appeal.
Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison last year on charges of complicity in the deaths of protesters in 2011. An Egyptian court accepted an appeal lodged by Mubarak’s defence lawyer, Fareed El-Deeb, and ordered a retrial.
This is not the first time Mubarak has been granted release, as the Court of Appeal and the Criminal Court had already allowed his release on three other charges after he served the maximum amount of pre-trial detention.
Cairo’s Criminal Court granted Mubarak release on April 15, pending retrial on charges of complicity in murdering protesters and corruption.
Although his release from prison has been ordered, it is expected that Mubarak will subsequently be held under house arrest or will be placed in a military hospital while he remains on trial.