Mubarak’s release comes amid fears of a return to Egypt’s repressive regime
Six years after having been ousted, Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, has been released from detention, after being cleared of inciting the killings of hundreds of protesters in 2011.
On Friday Mubarak (88) left a military hospital in Cairo’s southern suburb of Maadi, where he had been held in custody, and went to his home in the upscale Heliopolis district under heavy security.
The ouster of Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 29 years, led to the country’s first free election. But the winner, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi, was overthrown in a military coup in 2013.
Army chief Abdel Fattah el-Sisi has since waged a fierce crackdown on Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, with human rights groups claiming as many as 60 000 political prisoners currently languish in Egypt’s jails.
In 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 old leadership is regaining influence.
“As Hosni Mubarak goes free in Egypt, thousands of prisoners still languish in horrific prison conditions,” said Harriet McCulloch, a deputy director of human rights organisation Reprieve.
“Many face the death penalty on charges relating to protests, in mass trials that make a mockery of due process,” added McCulloch.
“Some were arrested as children – people like Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa, who has suffered terrible abuses in jail. The Sisi government must now show that Egypt’s justice system is worthy of the name and release Ibrahim, and the hundreds like him.”
Mubarak was cleared for release earlier this month, after the country’s highest appeals court acquitted him of any involvement in the deaths of nearly 900 Egyptians during the 2011 uprising that lasted from January 25 to February 11. He had been sentenced to life in 2012, but an appeals court dismissed the charges two years later.
A former air force chief and vice-president, Mubarak became president after fighters who had infiltrated the army shot dead president Anwar Sadat during a military parade in 1981.
Mubarak, then vice-president, was metres away from Sadat and was shot in the hand. He was sworn in as president eight days later.
– Al Jazeera
BACK HOME Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, at the presidential palace in Cairo in 2010