Former Egyptian leader, Mubarak, walks free for first time in six years

Former Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak [Photo: CNN.com]
Former Egyptian leader, Hosni Mubarak [Photo: CNN.com]

Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president overthrown in 2011 and the first leader to face trial after the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region, walked free on Friday for the first time in six years, his lawyer said.

He left the Maadi Military Hospital where he had been detained, heading to his home in Heliopolis.

A top appeals court cleared Mr. Mubarak earlier this month on charges of killing protesters in the 2011 uprising that ended his 30 year rule.

The trial of Mr. Mubarak, who was toppled in one of the tumultuous uprisings that shook the Arab world, captivated viewers as he appeared in a courtroom cage on charges ranging from corruption to complicity in the murder of protesters.

Mr. Mubarak was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for conspiring to murder 239 demonstrators during the 18-day revolt, an uprising that sowed chaos and created a security vacuum but also inspired hope for democracy and social justice.

But an appeals court ordered a retrial that culminated in 2014 in the case against the ageing former president and his senior officials being dropped.

An appeal by the public prosecution led to final retrial by the Court of Cassation.

After a hearing that took most of the day, Judge Ahmed Abdel Qawi announced to cheers of approval from Mr. Mubarak’s supporters who filled the court room: “The court has found the defendant innocent.’’

According to a judicial source, the court also rejected demands by lawyers of the victims to reopen civil suits.

The source said that left no remaining option for appeal or retrial.

The families of those killed, who had attended the trial early on, were not present, their lawyers condemned the verdict as politically motivated.

“This ruling is not fair and not just, the judiciary is politicised,’’ said Osman al-Hefnawy, a lawyer for the families.

Many Egyptians who lived through Mr. Mubarak’s rule view it as a period of autocracy and crony capitalism.

His overthrow led to Egypt’s first free election, which brought in Islamist President Mohamed Mursi.

Mr. Mursi only lasted a year in office; however, after mass protests against his rule in 2013 prompted an overthrow by then army chief, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who later went on to win a presidential election in 2014.

Mr. Sisi has since launched a crackdown on Mr. Mursi and his Muslim Brotherhood, which has been banned as a terrorist organisation.

Hundreds of Mursi supporters were killed in a single day and thousands were jailed, with the dragnet quickly widening to include secular activists who were at the forefront of the 2011 uprising but opposed Muslim Brotherhood rule.

By contrast, Mubarak-era figures are gradually being cleared of charges and a series of laws limiting political freedoms have raised fears among activists that the old regime is back.

Mr. Mubarak has long maintained his innocence in the case and has said history would judge him a patriot who served his country selflessly.

Mr. Mubarak, 88, got into a helicopter after the verdict to return to the hospital in the leafy Cairo suburb of Maadi where he has already completed a three-year sentence in a separate corruption case the only one in which he was convicted.(Reuters/NAN)


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