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Court orders Egypt's ex-President Hosni Mubarak to be released

An Egyptian court has ordered the release of ex-President Hosni Mubarak, who resigned in 2011 following a popular uprising. The EU has meanwhile agreed to suspend the sale of arms and security goods to Egypt.

Egypt's long-term leader prior to the Arab Spring, Hosni Mubarak, has been granted release by an Egyptian court, state television reported.

It was not immediately clear whether prosecutors will appeal the order. In the past, when courts have approved Mubarak's release, prosecutors have leveled new charges to keep him in detention.

State news agency MENA said, however, that Wednesday's decision could not be appealed because it was issued by an appeals court.

Mubarak has been in detention for more than two years.

The decision to order Mubarak's release comes in a hearing on charges that he accepted gifts from a state-owned newspaper. It is the last case keeping the former leader in detention.

Mubarak however faces a retrial on charges of complicity in the death of civilians during protests before his resignation. He was convicted on the charges and sentenced to life in prison in June 2012, but had the verdict thrown out on appeal.

Crisis meeting

Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers have agreed at a Brussels meeting to suspend export licenses for weapons or goods that could be used for internal repression, according to the bloc's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton.

Ashton said EU states would also review their aid programs, adding that the EU was calling on all sides to go back to the negotiating table to avoid further bloodshed.

Germany, Italy, the Netherlands and others had already suspended arms exports to Egypt.

The EU's foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said ahead of Wednesday's talks that she was ready to return to Cairo and again seek to mediate between Egypt's warring factions.

"I have offered to go back. I told the Egyptian prime minister at the weekend that I would be more than willing to go back to Egypt if they wish me to come back," Ashton told reporters in Brussels on the eve of the foreign ministers' meeting.

The United States is also looking at its assistance to Egypt.

"Our aid and assistance relationship with Egypt is under a review, but it has not been cut off," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday, though he also said that "continued violations of basic human rights don't make the transfer of that aid more likely."

Badie, Morsi behind bars

At least 800 people have died in Egypt in the past week. Over 100 of them were security forces personnel, but most were supporters of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ousted President Mohammed Morsi, whom Ashton met on her last stay in Egypt, remains in custody pending official charges.

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Former strong man placed under house arrest

Prosecutors in Egypt also said on Tuesday that the Muslim Brotherhood's spiritual leader, Supreme Guide Mohammed Badie, would be held for a further 15 days pending trial. Badie's arrest was made public early on Tuesday.

The military ousted Morsi on July 3. The situation in Egypt intensified on August 14, when police forcibly cleared two protest camps occupied by Morsi supporters in a sit-in started shortly before he was removed from office. More than 280 Morsi supporters were killed just in the larger of the two camps, outside the Rabaah al-Adawiya mosque.

Brotherhood supporters have demanded Morsi's reinstatement, and the interim government says it is planning to usher in new elections.

Former interim vice president Mohamed ElBaradei resigned in protest over the violence, but is now being sued for a "betrayal of trust" by an Egyptian law professor.

hc,msh/tj (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)

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