Egypt’s Mubarak Freed from Detention

Hosni Mubarak, former Egyptian autocrat ousted in the events of the 2011 Arab Spring, was freed Friday from the military hospital. Mubarak had spent most of the past six years in detention.

The release of the 88-year-old who ruled Egypt for three decades would have been unthinkable several years ago, but revolutionary fervor gave way to exhaustion and even nostalgia in the uprising’s chaotic aftermath.

His lawyer Farid al-Deeb told AFP that the former president had gone home to a villa in Cairo’s Heliopolis district.

Mubarak had reportedly suffered health problems during his detention. He was briefly imprisoned until he slipped in a prison shower and was then transferred to the military hospital.

Mubarak was accused of inciting the deaths of protesters during the 18-day revolt, in which about 850 people were killed as police clashed with demonstrators.

He was sentenced to life in jail in 2012 in the case, but an appeals court ordered a retrial which dismissed the charges two years later.

Egypt’s top appeals court on March 2 acquitted him of involvement in the killings.

Throughout his trial prosecutors had been unable to provide conclusive evidence of Mubarak’s complicity — a result, lawyers said, of having hastily put together the case against him in 2011 following demonstrations.

In January 2016, the appeals court upheld a three-year prison sentence for Mubarak and his two sons on corruption charges.

But the sentence took into account time served. Both of his sons, Alaa and Gamal, were freed.

On Thursday, a court ordered a renewed corruption investigation into Mubarak for allegedly receiving gifts from the state owned Al-Ahram newspaper. He is also banned from travel.

During his detention, Mubarak had remained defiant and denied wrongdoing.

“When I heard the first verdict I laughed. I said: ‘Ha!’,” he told a private broadcaster after his 2012 sentencing.

“I did nothing wrong at all,” he said.

Egypt: Mubarak Acquitted in Final Ruling over 2011 Protester Deaths

Ousted former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak waves to his supporters last year from his hospital room in Cairo, Egypt

Cairo – Egypt’s top appeals court found on Thursday former president Hosni Mubarak innocent of involvement in the killing of peaceful protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his 30-year rule, the final ruling in a landmark case.

The hearing was held on Thursday, amidst general indifference by the Egyptians, who are more concerned with pressing daily issues, such as high living costs and security instability.

After an all-day hearing, Judge Ahmed Abdel Qawi announced: “The court has found the defendant innocent.”

The Cairo-based court rejected demands by lawyers of the victims to reopen civil suits, leaving no remaining option for appeal or retrial.

Mubarak was accused of inciting the deaths of nearly 900 protesters in an 18-day uprising that ended when he stepped down on February 11, 2011.

In June 2012, Mubarak was sentenced by a criminal court to life in prison – 20 years in jail per Egyptian law – for his complicity in the murder of protestors during the 2011 uprising.

The Cassation Court overturned Mubarak’s conviction in January 2013 and ordered a retrial. Other defendants in the same case, including Mubarak’s last interior minister Habib El-Adly and four of his aides, were also acquitted.

In November 2014, the criminal court acquitted the former president and all co-defendants of killing protesters, noting that the prosecution’s initial decision in March 2011 to charge Mubarak lacked the legal basis to bring a criminal case against him.

The 88-year-old ousted president has been confined to Maadi Military Hospital for treatment since 2012.

In January 2016, the Court of Cassation upheld a three-year prison sentence for Mubarak and his two sons for corruption in the case known as “the presidential palaces lawsuit”, for using public funds to upgrade his private property.

Egypt’s Parliament Meets after Three-Year Absence

A boy rides a bike in front of the parliament building in Cairo, June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany
A boy rides a bike in front of the parliament building in Cairo, June 14, 2012. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El-Ghany

Cairo- Egypt’s new parliament held its opening session on Sunday, state television reported, more than three years after a court dissolved the old Islamist-dominated chamber.

The body is expected to choose a speaker on its first day back, and now has 15 days to approve hundreds of laws issued by executive decree during the period when it was suspended.

Egypt’s last parliament was elected in 2011-12 in the country’s first free vote following a popular uprising that ended autocrat Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule.

But a court dissolved that parliament in mid-2012 after ruling that the election laws at the time were unconstitutional.

A year later, Mubarak’s elected successor, Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood, was himself overthrown by the army led by Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The new parliament, which will be dominated by an alliance loyal to now President Sisi, has 568 elected members plus another 28 appointed directly by him.

The new assembly was chosen in elections that critics said were undermined by a security crackdown on Islamist and other opposition groups.

El-Sissi’s supporters hailed the new legislature convening Sunday as a step enshrining a long-promised democracy, but critics fear it only further strengthens the control of the president and Egypt’s multiple security agencies. Political parties, always weak in Egypt, have been eviscerated in recent years, meaning most of the 596 lawmakers come in with little platform beyond praise for el-Sissi.

“It’s a farce,” said Rasha Abdullah, a journalism lecturer at the American University in Cairo who closely monitors the role of social media in Egyptian politics. “Nothing positive or good will come out of this parliament. There may be surprises, but they will likely be of the theatrical kind.”

Opinion: Why the West misread Egypt

One of the problems the West has faced with the Arab world during the Arab Spring era has been its misinterpretation of the situation in Egypt. The scenario in that country has strayed off the path Western think-tanks hoped, or at least predicted, it would follow based on the findings of a new generation of researchers whose approach differs from that of past scholars whose love for the region led them to closely study its culture and live among its people for considerable periods of time, something which enabled them to adequately comprehend the countries of the region.

Most of the modern-day researchers, whose advice Western foreign ministries and decision-making centers seek, draw on the Internet as a source for their information, and thus fall captive to the views of social media activists who, although they represent a considerable segment of society, do not speak for all Egyptians. Therefore, their research is often limited in terms of the conclusions it reaches and the analysis it offers. This is similar to what happened during Egypt’s January 25 revolution and the subsequent events that led to the toppling of Islamist president Mohamed Mursi on June 30, 2013. In the first event, the West failed to realize that bringing about change in any given society is a tough job and that it was natural for opportunist, well-organized powers to hijack the scene. Those researchers also failed to realize that the deep-rooted old powers would fight back in a bid to maintain their interests, and that the ensuing conflict would see the dreamy, revolutionary powers emerging empty-handed, simply for lacking the tools for bringing about change.

The same mistakes were repeated when the West misinterpreted the public mood in Egypt during the events in June 30, 2013. During the January 25 revolution the public was in a state of confusion in terms of its stance towards the regime of Hosni Mubarak, a longtime friend of the West. At the beginning, the public mood was in favor of introducing reforms in Egypt rather than mounting an uprising against the government. But things developed into a revolution after a series of fatal mistakes the Mubarak regime committed during the 18-day uprising. However, even before June 30 the public felt antagonism towards the Muslim Brotherhood, something which Western decision-making centers failed to realize. What the Egyptian army did was that it correctly interpreted, or accurately predicted, the public mood. The army ran out of patience when the public made its decision to rise up against the Islamist-led government. It is not possible to question what happened on June 30 given that those who took to the streets were ordinary Egyptian people; even entire families were among those who protested.

Why did Western analysts fail to see this reality? The reason is that their sources of information are limited to a group of activists based within an area of one or two square miles of Cairo, stretching from the upscale Zamalek district to Tahrir square, one which does not represent the majority of ordinary Egyptians.

Egyptian court sentences Mubarak, sons to 3 years in jail

Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on April 26, 2014 during his retrial over charges of failing to stop the killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising, in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Tarek El-Gabbas, File)
Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on April 26, 2014 during his retrial over charges of failing to stop the killings of protesters during the 2011 uprising, in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Tarek El-Gabbas, File)

Cairo, Reuters—An Egyptian court sentenced former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to three years in jail without parole on Saturday in the retrial of a corruption case.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt with an iron fist for 30 years, and his sons Gamal and Alaa may not have to serve any jail time for those corruption charges because they already spent that amount of time in prison in other cases.

The former air force commander was toppled from the presidency during the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region in 2011 and raised hopes of democracy.

A previous court decision to drop charges against him of conspiring to kill protesters in the uprising, centred in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, and the release of some of his associates from jail have cast doubt over Egypt’s political transformation.

Last May, Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison on charges of diverting public funds earmarked to renovate presidential palaces and using the money to upgrade family properties. His two sons were given four-year jail terms in the same case.

In January, Egypt’s high court overturned the convictions, and the case went back to court for retrial.

“The ruling of the court is three years in prison without parole for Mohamed Hosni Mubarak and Gamal Mohamed Hosni Mubarak and Alaa Mohamed Hosni Mubarak,” Judge Hassan Hassanein announced on Saturday.

Egypt is slowly recovering from the upheaval that followed Mubarak’s ouster.

Elected President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, the latest man from the military to rule the Arab world’s most populous country, removed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi from power in 2013 after mass protests against his troubled one-year rule.

Security forces then cracked down on the Brotherhood and its supporters and later began jailing liberal activists opposed to what human rights groups call a return to repression.

The US-backed Egyptian government says it is committed to democracy.

Many Egyptians turned a blind eye to the toughest security crackdown in the country’s history for the sake of stability after street protests and attacks by militant groups gutted the tourism industry, a pillar of the economy.

Militants based in the Sinai, who have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, have killed hundreds of police and soldiers since the army toppled Mursi.

On Saturday, one policeman and three Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed in clashes in the city of Damietta, the Interior Ministry said.

Egypt sees bloody day on fourth anniversary of uprising

A car burns after commemorations of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising turned in to clashes in Matareya, Cairo, Egypt, on January 25, 2015. (EPA/Ahmed Taranh/Al-Masry Al-Youm)
A car burns after commemorations of the anniversary of the 2011 uprising turned in to clashes in Matareya, Cairo, Egypt, on January 25, 2015. (EPA/Ahmed Taranh/Al-Masry Al-Youm)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—At least 18 people were killed and 52 injured in clashes throughout Egypt on Sunday, on the fourth anniversary of the January 2011 revolution that toppled the regime of former president Hosni Mubarak.

Hisham Ata, a member of the Emergencies Committee at the Ministry of Health, told Asharq Al-Awsat 14 police officers were also killed in the clashes, the bloodiest of which occurred in the Matareya district in northern Cairo, where protesters clashed with security services and police and burned cars and buildings.

The banned Muslim Brotherhood, which called for mass protests from its members on the anniversary of the uprising, said 14 members of the group had been killed in the clashes. The group had previously released a statement calling on its members to fill some of Egypt’s largest squares, including Tahrir and Rabaa Al-Adawiya, on the day of the anniversary in order to protest what it called “the return of the police state.”

The police and the army closed off the entrances to some of the largest squares and bridges in Cairo and boosted security around police and security buildings throughout, though some of these came under attack on Sunday.

The Interior Ministry said however it had foiled several bomb plots near security buildings in the Qalyubia and Beheira provinces as well as in Egypt’s second city, Alexandria. Security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat some 60 different explosive devices had been dismantled throughout the country on Sunday by bomb disposal teams.

Authorities in Egypt had canceled all official celebrations for the anniversary of the uprising, known in Egypt as the January 25 revolution, due to its coinciding with an official period of mourning for Saudi Arabia’s late monarch, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz.

Egypt has experienced protests as well as a number of attacks on police and security buildings and personnel since the army, then led by current Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, helped oust former president and senior Brotherhood member Mohamed Mursi in July 2013. The government blames the Brotherhood for the attacks and banned the group in December of 2013.

Meanwhile, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, the sons of former president Hosni Mubarak, who had been facing charges of misusing state funds, were freed on Monday, almost four years after their initial incarceration along with their father.

Their four-year sentences were overturned earlier this month and a Cairo court ordered their release on bail late last week, though both men still face charges relating to insider trading. Their father remains in a military hospital in Cairo, though there is no legal basis for his detention after his conviction for ordering the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising was quashed on a technicality.

Egyptian court overturns last conviction against Mubarak

Supporters of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak cheer after a court overturned his conviction in an embezzlement case, in Cairo, Egypt, January 13, 2015. (EPA/BASMA FATHY / ALMASRY ALYOUM EGYPT OUT)
Supporters of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak cheer after a court overturned his conviction in an embezzlement case, in Cairo, Egypt, January 13, 2015. (EPA/BASMA FATHY / ALMASRY ALYOUM EGYPT OUT)
Cairo, Reuters—Egypt’s high court on Tuesday overturned the only remaining conviction against Hosni Mubarak, ordering a retrial in the embezzlement case and opening the way for the ousted former president’s possible release.

Mubarak, 86, was sentenced to three years in prison in May for diverting public funds earmarked to renovate presidential palaces and using the money to upgrade family properties. His two sons were given four-year jail terms in the same case.

Suffering from ill health, he has been serving his sentence in a military hospital in the upscale Maadi district of Cairo. Now that a retrial has been ordered, judicial sources say Mubarak could walk free as no convictions remain against him.

Tuesday’s verdict follows a court decision in November to drop charges against Mubarak over conspiring to kill protesters in the 2011 uprising that ended his 30-year rule.

That ruling led to protests in which at least two people were killed. Expectations that Mubarak will eventually walk free while thousands of his political opponents languish in jail have raised fears among critics that the old leadership is back.

“After the release of police officers charged with killing demonstrators and of Mubarak aides and his acquittal over the killing of protesters, this is not shocking news,” said Khaled Dawoud, spokesman for the opposition Dostour Party.

“But I don’t think Mubarak is the issue any more. The Egyptian people gave their verdict against him four years ago.”

Many Egyptians who lived through Mubarak’s rule view it as a period of autocracy and crony capitalism. His overthrow led to Egypt’s first free election. But the Islamist victor, Mohamed Mursi, was ousted in 2013 by then-army chief Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, following protests against his rule.

Sisi, who went on to win a presidential election last May, launched a crackdown on Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood. Authorities have jailed thousands of Brotherhood supporters and courts have sentenced hundreds to death in mass trials that have drawn international criticism.

By contrast, Mubarak-era figures are slowly being cleared of charges and a series of laws curtailing political freedoms have raised fears among activists that the rights won during 18 days of protest in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the symbolic heart of the revolt, are being eroded.

The Court of Cassation, which ordered the retrial, did not say if Mubarak would be freed on bail pending the new trial.

Mubarak also faces retrial for a third and final time over charges of involvement in the death of demonstrators in 2011.

A source in the public prosecutor’s office said it was up to the courts that retry Mubarak whether to order his release on bail or to keep him in pretrial detention pending a verdict, suggesting he will remain incarcerated for the time being.

But his lawyer, Fareed El-Deeb, told reporters after Tuesday’s hearing that Mubarak had served the maximum permitted time in pretrial detention and should be freed.

Before his conviction in the presidential palaces embezzlement cases in May, Mubarak had been freed on that basis.

Opinion: Between Sebsi and Sisi

There are many exciting similarities between Tunisia and Egypt. The two countries have followed almost exactly the same course, from the chaotic bedlam of the Arab Spring to the almost similar surnames of their current presidents, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and Beji Caid El-Sebsi.

In Tunisia, street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi emerged as an icon of public anger and a talisman of popular revolution against the regime and the state. As for Egypt, Khaled Said, the young man who died at the hands of the police in Alexandria served as the objective and symbolic counterpart to Bouazizi. The names of both men became expressions of the people’s will.

It was said that the Muslim Brotherhood, the traditional enemy of state in both Egypt and Tunisia, had no role in the public protests that erupted in 2011. We all remember that even Ennahda leader Rachid Ghanouchi acknowledged that the revolution was staged by the Tunisian people before his Islamist group could join rebel ranks. This was also the case in Egypt where the Brotherhood later entered protest squares and joined the revolutionaries; or at least that is the picture they wanted others to see, dislodging claims that the original revolution had been “civilian and secularist.”

In both countries, Muslim Brotherhood affiliated parties secured the lion’s share of parliamentary seats in the first post-revolution elections. Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party and Tunisia’s Ennahda—both affiliated with the Brotherhood—formed the cornerstone of the post-revolutionary political scene. They were joined by civilian forces, such as the left-wing Moncef Al-Marzouki in Tunisia and Ayman Nour in Egypt, who acted as a mere façade to what was going on behind the scene. The same goes for some romantic revolutionary youth who sought to enter the political arena.

In Egypt and Tunisia, the Brotherhood failed to “administer” the state and run people’s affairs, preoccupying themselves with marginal petty political battles. To be honest, Ennahda’s performance in Tunisia was far more judicious and realistic than that of the Freedom and Justice party in Egypt who, due to their political immaturity, pounced greedily on power and than set about following a policy based solely on political intimidation.

Tunisia’s Brotherhood avoided the fate of their Egyptian counterparts by relinquishing some of their political powers when they realized that they were facing an inevitable wave of change. As a result, they avoided the tsunami of public resentment, saving what they could of the spoils of power, unlike the parent group in Egypt.

The political scene in Egypt remained confused until Field Marshal Sisi came to power on the back of an overwhelming public mandate and he has been able to secure many successes in just a short period of time. In Tunisia, Sebsi’s Nidaa Tounes have now completely eclipsed Ennahda.

While Sisi has been described as Gamal Abdel-Nasser’s successor, Sibsi claims to be the heir of Habib Bourguiba, the father of the modern Tunisian state.

I do not claim that the picture in both countries is identical. There are many clear and obvious differences, but these serve only to highlight the similarities. Contrary to Muslim Brotherhood propaganda in both countries, the latest shift does not mark a return to the former regimes of Hosni Mubarak and Zine Al-Abidine Ben Ali. In fact, the change in both countries represents a giant leap forward and, most importantly, quashes the century-long illusion that the Muslim Brotherhood represent the salvation of the state.

President Sisi always affirmed that there would be no return to Mubarak’s regime or the Brotherhood state. While the newly-elected President Sebsi claims there will be no going back to Ben Ali’s regime or fundamentalist rule in Tunisia.

Now is the moment for the state. Perhaps everything that happened in Egypt and Tunisia was necessary chance to inject new blood into the political leadership of both countries. The state remains, first and foremost, the top priority.

Opinion: Mubarak’s Trial and Mursi’s Legacy

Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s ousted president, is a mere symbol of the past. He’s never represented a threat to the new regime because he has no influence over society and no political movement behind him.

His political career died in February 2011, even before his detention, as the result of the consensus against him among his opponents, especially the military. His exit was final, and nobody was ever under the illusion that he ever could return to power. This is why there were expectations that he would be released as soon as he was arrested. However, he remained in detention and he might die in jail if the court does not approve his release, along with the release of his two sons.

Even at the height of the public demands for him to be put on trial, there were voices urging political reconciliation during the period of political transition. However, at the time they also said that only a legitimately elected president could make that decision. When Egypt’s first elected president, Mohamed Mursi, came to power, his decision was different. Instead of declaring a general amnesty and launching a new era devoid of vengeance and opening the door to reconciliation, Mursi rejected these calls and only pardoned detainees from among his own movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. Mursi’s rule, which lasted for one year, was focused on the struggle to control the judiciary and state prosecutors. His time in power was also marred by the pursuit of rivals in the judiciary and security services. As a result, Mursi’s regime collapsed, exhausted as it was by the rivalries it accumulated and its preoccupation with enemies, which all came at the expense of running the state’s affairs.

It is natural for a faction of Egyptians to condemn the acquittal of Mubarak and to condemn his release. It is also natural for another faction to reject his continued detention, because the struggle is one for Egypt’s recent history, and the power to confer political legitimacy or deprive others of it.

However, the question is not one of exonerating Mubarak or releasing him. The more relevant question is why Mubarak was detained in the first place when he announced that he would step down and made clear he had no intention of defying the revolutionaries after the army turned against him. In any case, why are we asking such questions when his prompt exit prevented the country from sliding into chaos?

Most regimes which begin their rule with reprisals fail to achieve stability in the long run. This has always been the case, from the the French and Russian revolutions to the Arab military coups. The most recent case is the fighting in Iraq, which came as a result of the eradication of former president Saddam Hussein and those who stood beside him. Nelson Mandela, however, was not only able to remove the white racist regime in South Africa, but was also able to achieve something greater: coexistence among different social groups. This he achieved by sending guilty individuals before a tribunal where they confessed to their crimes and apologized. Mursi, who pursued members of Mubarak’s regime, made it easy for his rivals and competitors to do the same to him during the second revolution of June 30, 2013, which ousted him from power. I think that his only concern was vengeance during his time as president, and this is what ultimately destroyed the Brotherhood’s rule.

It is not likely that Mubarak will live long enough to enjoy his freedom if he is released. This is because he has been sick for much of the last decade, and his long-term illness led in part to the collapse of the state that was centered on him and his son Gamal. He was an incompetent dictator, but he wasn’t as brutal as the rumors contend. His stupidity lay in his inability to realize the historic opportunities he could have seized to take Egypt towards a democratic civil regime and immortalize his name and succeed where his three predecessors had failed. His decision to allow presidential elections in 2005 came as a result of Western pressure. He subsequently subverted the polls by undermining his opponents and forging results to remain in power, and the revolution against him was thus a possible result of this.

Mubarak was an authoritarian, stubborn, and deceitful man, but he wasn’t as bloodthirsty as other men have been across the region. His trial is simply a sign that the political situation in the country has been disturbed, and that Egyptian society will continue to carry a terrible burden without reconciliation.

Mubarak awaiting January appeal against embezzlement conviction: lawyer

Supporters of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak wave by his poster as he was taken by a helicopter ambulance from Maadi Military Hospital to a court in Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday, November 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)
Supporters of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak wave by his poster as he was taken by a helicopter ambulance from Maadi Military Hospital to a court in Cairo, Egypt, on Saturday, November 29, 2014. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil)

Cairo, Asharq Al-Awsat—Following a court’s decision on Saturday to drop charges holding former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak responsible for the death of protesters in Egypt’s 2011 revolution, one of his lawyers has revealed the ex-president remains in custody because he is refusing to pay a fine relating to a separate case against him.

In addition to facing charges over the ordering of the killing of protesters, Mubarak was also convicted in May of misusing public funds during his 30-year presidency, over which he is currently facing a three-year jail sentence.

A judicial source speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on Saturday had said the former president could soon be released, however, because he had already been remanded in custody for two years before being charged—during the period from April 2011 to April 2013—and so the court would take into account his having already served more than three-quarters of his sentence.

But Yusri Abdel Raziq, one of his lawyers, told Asharq Al-Awsat on Sunday the former president was “awaiting the date of his appeal in the case, which is due on January 13,” because he was refusing to pay a fine of 120 million Egyptian pounds (16 million US dollars) associated with the conviction.

He added that if the court accepted the appeal in January, Mubarak would “finally be released.”

Mubarak was initially imprisoned in Cairo’s Torah prison in 2011, but was later moved to a military hospital in Cairo’s Maadi suburb due to ill health. He has remained there since then.

Saturday’s verdict resulted in jubilant celebrations among the ex-president’s supporters outside the hospital and the Police Academy in Cairo where he was being tried.

Following the announcement, two people were killed and nine injured in clashes between protesters and security forces near Cairo’s Tahrir Square.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Egyptian presidency released a statement calling for all to respect the court’s decision. It said Egypt’s current president, Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, had watched the trial closely, and that the country was continuing on its course “toward establishing a modern democratic state” and that it would “never go back to the past.”

Sawsan Abu Hussain contributed additional reporting.