Divided Egypt prepares to release Mubarak from jail

Divided Egypt prepares to release Mubarak from jail
Egyptians outside the police academy in Cairo watch a live video feed of the trial of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his sons on Aug 3, 2011. Photo: NYT
Army says former president will be held under house arrest after release; fears grow his release could worsen political crisis
Published: 7:48 AM, August 22, 2013
Updated: 4:00 AM, August 23, 2013
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CAIRO — Deposed Egyptian leader Hosni Mubarak could leave prison today (Aug 22) after a court ruling that further divided a country in turmoil since the army toppled Islamist President Mohamed Mr Morsi seven weeks ago.

Convening at the Cairo jail where Mubarak is held, the court ordered the release of the military man who ruled Egypt for 30 years with an iron fist until he was overthrown during the uprisings that swept the Arab world in early 2011.

The prime minister’s office said he would then be placed under house arrest, which could be an attempt to placate the many who will object to the release of the man they held mass protests to eject in 2011.

Citing a security source, the state news agency said Mubarak would “likely” be transported to one of the state’s vital installations or one of two military hospitals where he will be guarded under heavy security.

Mubarak, 85, was sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to prevent the killing of demonstrators. But a court accepted his appeal earlier this year and ordered a retrial.

The ailing former air force pilot probably has no political future, but the court ruling made some Egyptians uncomfortable.

“His regime was foul. He damaged the country a lot. Unemployment high, no services, no health, no education. This is not a good day for the country,” said Mr Hassan Mohamed, 66, an engineer.

Refilling juice cartons in a convenience store, Mr Amr Fathi also expressed disappointment. “I’m not happy, of course. He oppressed us a lot back in the day,” he said.

Political upheaval triggered by the army overthrow of Mr Morsi has kept many Egyptians anxious for months.

The military announced a road map designed to bring democracy back to Egypt. But that has not created a sense of stability in the Arab world’s biggest nation.

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