Egypt's ex-dictator sent to prison where former enemies were held
For nearly 30 years he was the pharaoh-like ruler whose word was law, the plunderer of billions of pounds of government money and controller of Egypt's brutal police state.
|Before the judge issued his verdict some soldiers were eating Ice Cream to break the hot weather|
Sunday June 03 2012
Last night Hosni Mubarak began a new life as a convicted murderer. A broken and humiliated man of 84, he was flown by helicopter to Torah prison -- where many of his enemies had once been jailed -- just two hours after hearing a Cairo judge pronounce a life sentence on him for complicity in the murder of 850 protesters.
He appeared to be in tears and at first refused to leave the plane as he realised that he had not been taken to the military hospital where he had spent most of the nine months since his trial began.
Last night, amid rumours that he might have suffered a heart attack, he was in the hospital wing of the Cairo prison -- the first leader toppled by his own people in the Arab Spring to attend his own trial and be jailed in one of his own prisons.
Convicted alongside him was Habib al-Adly, the former interior minister and a loyal ally, who had been in charge of the nation's internal security as police cracked down on demonstrators in Cairo's Tahrir Square, and in town and cities across Egypt, during a week of intense violence at the end of January last year.
But Mubarak was cleared of corruption charges, along with his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, who are said to have amassed a €265m fortune during their father's rule and who still face a separate trial for insider trading.
To the fury of the crowd waiting outside the courtroom -- in a former police barracks north of Cairo, protected by a phalanx of riot police -- six other security officials and senior policemen were acquitted of the charges against them, and so was a property developer friend of the Mubaraks accused of offering them bribes.
For the mothers, fathers and brothers and sisters of slain protesters gathered outside, it was a moment of intense emotion when Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison -- although most had wanted him hanged. But then the crowd grasped that Mubarak's henchmen, those they hold directly responsible for killing their friends and relatives, were not going to prison. The mood suddenly changed.
A young woman screamed at the riot police, who had minutes earlier been eating ice cream in the hot sunshine and were soon firing stun grenades to help ward off the angry crowd.
Inside the court, Mubarak, wearing dark glasses, showed little emotion as Judge Ahmed Refaat described the popular protest that had been crushed by his regime. "It was a ray of white, bright hope for the great people of Egypt, dreaming of a better future," he said.
Mubarak's sons looked dismayed as the verdicts were read out, even though they were acquitted. But many in the courtroom reacted angrily at the acquittal of most of those on trial. In particular, there was astonishment at the acquittal of the police chiefs who were in control during the week of most intense bloodshed.