Monday, June 4, 2012

Egypt’s ex-President Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison on Saturday

LIFE IMPRISONMENT. Egypt's ex-President Hosni Mubarak lays on a gurney inside a barred cage in the police academy courthouse in Cairo, Egypt, Saturday, June 2, 2012. Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison Saturday for his role in the killing of protesters during last year's revolution that forced him from power, a verdict that caps a stunning fall from grace for a man who ruled the country as his personal fiefdom for nearly three decades. CAIRO—Egypt’s ex-President Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison on Saturday for his role in the killing of protesters during last year’s revolution that forced him from power, a verdict that caps a stunning fall from grace for a man who ruled the country for 30 years as his personal fiefdom.
The harsh sentence against the 84-year-old former leader appeared aimed at defusing tensions ahead of a divisive runoff presidential race that pits Mubarak’s last prime minister against the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate. It was the first time a deposed Arab leader had faced an ordinary court in person since a wave of uprisings shook the Arab world last year, sweeping away four entrenched rulers. Mubarak, propped up on a hospital stretcher and wearing dark sunglasses, heard the verdict with a stony expression. He had been wheeled into the cage used in Egyptian courtrooms, while the other defendants stood. Demonstrators outside the court, many of whom had been demanding the death penalty for Mubarak, greeted the verdict with fireworks and cries of “Allahu akbar (God is great).” ‘I’m so happy’ Soha Saeed, the wife of one of about 850 people killed in the street revolt that toppled Mubarak on Feb. 11, 2011, shouted: “I’m so happy. I’m so happy.” Some people inside the court who had wanted a death sentence scuffled with guards, decrying the Mubarak-era judiciary. “The people want the judiciary cleansed!” they chanted. One man held up a sign calling for Mubarak to be executed, others chanted for a death sentence. Judge Ahmed Rifaat opened the proceedings by calling the start of Mubarak’s trial on Aug. 3, 2011, a “historic day.” He hailed Egyptians for removing the only leader many of them had known. “The people of Egypt woke on Tuesday, Jan. 25, to a new dawn, hoping that they would be able to breathe fresh air … after 30 years of deep, deep, deep darkness,” he told the court. “They peacefully demanded democracy from rulers who held tight grip on power,” the judge said. Rifaat, who was presiding over his last court session before he retires, said Mubarak and Mubarak’s former interior minister, Habib al-Adli, did not act to stop the killings during 18 days of mass protests that were met by a deadly crackdown of security forces on unarmed demonstrators. More than 850 protesters were killed, most shot to death, in Cairo and other major cities. Total silence fell over the courtroom in the moments before Rifaat announced his verdict. The crowd outside then erupted in joy. Anti-Mubarak demonstrators and a smaller crowd of his supporters threw stones at each other and at police. The judge also sentenced al-Adli, to life in prison. He sentenced Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal, to time already served after convicting them on some corruption charges and acquitting them on others. Six security officials were acquitted. Many Egyptians are angry that the hated police force, blamed for many of the deaths in the uprising, and other pillars of Mubarak’s rule have survived his downfall intact. A helicopter had flown Mubarak to the court on the outskirts of Cairo from the military-run hospital where he has been held in custody. Egyptian state television said the prosecutor general had ordered that Mubarak be transferred to prison from hospital to serve his sentence. No details were immediately given. His codefendants have been held for months in a Cairo prison. ‘Enough talk’ Hundreds of policemen with riot shields and batons surrounded the police academy where the 10-month trial has been held. “Enough talk, we want execution!” protesters chanted outside before the verdict. Few Egyptians had expected Mubarak would go to the gallows, although protesters have often hung his effigy from lampposts. “I want nothing less than the death penalty for Mubarak. Anything less and we will not be silent and the revolution will break out again,” Hanafi el-Sayed, whose 27-year-old son was killed early in the uprising, said just before the verdict. He had traveled from Alexandria for the trial. In a June 16 and June 17 runoff, Ahmed Shafiq, an ex-air force chief like Mubarak, will face the Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi. Shafiq has called his former boss a role model. His Islamist rival says that if he becomes president he will ensure enough evidence is produced to keep Mubarak behind bars for life. “It is not possible to release Mubarak,” Mursi said on Thursday. “I promise the martyrs (of the uprising) will retrieve their rights in full, God willing.

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