Egypt erupts with Mubarak verdict

Egypt erupts with Mubarak verdict

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Egypt erupts with Mubarak verdict

Thousands of anti-Mubarak protesters demonstrate in Cairo’s Tahrir square after he was sentenced to life-term prison over the deaths of protesters in 2011. A bedridden Mubarak (inset) sat stony-faced while the judge read out the conviction and sentence against him. AFP photo

Thousands of angry protesters across Egypt took to the streets over the weekend after ex-president Hosni Mubarak and his security chief were given life in prison over the deaths of protesters in 2011, with six police chiefs acquitted.

Judge Ahmed Rifaat sentenced Mubarak, 84, and his interior minister Habib al-Adly to life for their role in the deaths of more than 800 protesters during the revolt that ousted them, but acquitted the six security commanders on the same charges because of lack of concrete evidence. Corruption charges against Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, were dropped because of the expiry of a statute of limitations, and the ex-president was acquitted in one of the graft cases.

However, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak will stay in prison because they are on trial in another case.

Hundreds of Egyptians occupied Cairo’s Tahrir Square yesterday after a night of rage against what they feel are lenient sentences given to Mubarak and his security chiefs. Around 20,000 people took to Tahrir on June 2 after the verdicts were issued. Some of the demonstrators slept in tents or out in the open overnight on the vast intersection, the epicenter of the 18-day revolt that forced Mubarak to resign last year. Similar protests went on in the Mediterranean port city of Alexandria and Suez on the Red Sea. Protesters chanted: “A farce, a farce, this trial is a farce” and “The people want the execution of the murderer.”

“Many people had the feeling while listening to the verdict that we were back in the days of the old regime,” said student Feda Essam, a protester in the square. The demonstrators erected a memorial depicting a miniature cemetery made of gravestones and sand in tribute to the “martyrs” of the revolution.

Mixed reactions from Shafiq and Morsi

Early yesterday, the offices of presidential candidate Ahmad Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, were attacked in two provincial towns, a security services official said. He said the verdict showed that no one was above the law in today’s Egypt. Shafiq’s campaign has announced that he would never pardon Mubarak if he were elected president, according to al-Ahram’s website.

On the other side, Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood quickly tried to capitalize on the anger over the acquittals, vowing in a news conference that, if elected, he would retry Mubarak along with former regime officials suspected of involvement in killing protesters.

“Egypt and its revolutionary sons will continue their revolution. This revolution will not stop,” he told reporters before joining the crowds in Tahrir Square for around 15 minutes. Former presidential hopefuls Hamdeen Sabbahi and Abdel-Moneim Abolfotoh also joined the protesters in Tahrir. Mubarak’s defense team said it would appeal the verdicts. Earlier, a bedridden Mubarak sat stony-faced and frowning in the courtroom’s metal defendants’ cage while Rifaat read out the conviction and sentence against him, showing no emotion with his eyes concealed by dark sunglasses. His sons Gamal and Alaa looked nervous, but also did not react to either the conviction of their father or their own acquittals.

Authorities said the verdict would undoubtedly have an impact on the run-off presidential elections on June 16-17 that will pit Shafiq against Morsi in a highly polarized race.

Compiled from AFP, AP and Reuters stories by the Daily News staff.