Egyptians occupy Tahrir Square to protest ′lenient′ life sentence | News | DW | 03.06.2012
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Egyptians occupy Tahrir Square to protest 'lenient' life sentence

Many protesters have spent the night on Cairo's Tahrir Square. They were angered by what they see as the lenient sentencing of former President Hosni Mubarak for more than 800 deaths.

Demonstrators remained in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Sunday to protest against what they see as the insufficient sentences handed down to former President Hosni Mubarak and other senior officials on Saturday. Large protests were also reported in the cities of Alexandria and Suez.

The court, set up at a police academy just outside of Cairo, sentenced Mubarak and his former interior minister, Habib al-Adli, to life imprisonment for complicity in the killings of more than 800 demonstrators during the uprising that forced the long-time president to step down early last year.

Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, were acquitted of corruption charges and several senior police officers were found not guilty of murder.

What may have angered the demonstrators the most is the fact that no single person was held responsible for the killings, which came during a violent crackdown in the early days of the 18-day uprising. However, many were also angered by the fact that the 84-year-old former leader was spared the death penalty.

The prosecutor general said on Sunday an appeal had been lodged against the verdicts.

Support from Brotherhood candidate

The court's decision came at a sensitive political time for Egypt, just a fortnight ahead of the second round of the country's presidential election. A number of leading politicians turned up at Tahrir Square, including Mohammed Morsi, of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned during the Mubarak years.

Watch video 01:51

Egyptians protest Mubarak sentence

Earlier on Saturday, Morsi, who is one of two candidates in the June 16-17 presidential run-off, released a statement saying nothing less than the death penalty was acceptable punishment for Mubarak. Just before his short appearance at Tahir Square, Morsi told reporters that he fully supported the protesters.

"All of us, my brothers, must realize in this period that the continuation of the revolution, and the revolutionaries' staying put in their positions in the squares, is the only guarantee to achieve the goals," he said.

Opponent's offices attacked

In the run-off, Morsi will face Ahmad Shafiq, the last prime minister appointed by Hosni Mubarak. Possibly sparked by renewed anger over the sentences handed down by the court, Shafiq's campaign headquarters in two provincial towns were ransacked early on Sunday. His campaign office in Cairo had already been attacked on Monday.

There was no word on the state of Hosni Mubarak's health on Sunday. The man who ruled Egypt for three decades was reported to have suffered a "health crisis" as he arrived at the Cairo prison hospital where he was to serve his sentence. A report that he had suffered a heart attack could not be confirmed.

pfd/ncy (dpa, DAPD, AFP, Reuters)

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