CAIRO, (Reuters) – Thousands of well-wishers and Egypt’s military brass gathered on Saturday for the funeral of the country’s former intelligence chief Omar Suleiman, a key figure in the fallen Mubarak regime who died this week in hospital in the United States.
Supporters of Suleiman chanted “God is great” and “in the name of God,” as his casket was hoisted atop a horse-drawn cart after a ceremony at the Al Rashdan Mosque in Cairo’s Heliopolis district.
Some yelled out slogans against the Muslim Brotherhood, the party of newly elected president Mohamed Mursi and which Egypt’s intelligence services fought for years to contain.
Suleiman, 76, was ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak’s last deputy and one of his most trusted advisers. He stepped briefly into the limelight when he was made vice president days before Mubarak was overthrown in a popular uprising last year.
Mursi, who spent about six months in prison during Suleiman’s tenure as intelligence chief, did not attend the funeral but sent a top aide, Brigadier General Abdul-Monem Foda, as his representative.
Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, head of Egypt’s ruling military council, attended the funeral along with other council members.
An urbane power broker who enforced Hosni Mubarak’s rule, Suleiman symbolized the autocratic, military-backed rule which dominated much of the Arab world for nearly 50 years and began facing popular revolts in late 2010 and 2011.
He was also a willing point man in the rendition of Egyptian fighters from Iraq and Afghanistan, in which the United States handed over prisoners to Egypt for interrogation. Rights groups said he was involved in the widespread torture of detainees.
Surrounded by dozens of military police and officers and several thousand spectators, a horse-drawn cart carried his casket as a military band played Chopin’s Marche Funebre. Suleiman was due to be buried later Saturday.
Suleiman died on Thursday due to complications from amyloidosis, a disease that affects multiple organs including the heart and kidneys, three days after he had checked in for treatment, said a statement by the Cleveland Clinic.