Former Egyptian president sentenced to life in prison | News | DW | 02.06.2012
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Former Egyptian president sentenced to life in prison

Former President Hosni Mubarak has been sentenced to life in prison for ordering a crackdown on those protesting his rule. Almost 900 people were killed when security forces attempted to put down the uprising.

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been sentenced to life imprisonment after being convicted of complicity in the killings of almost 850 protesters during an 18-day uprising against his rule early last year. He was acquitted of a corruption charge. A senior lawyer for Mubarak’s defense team said he intended to appeal the court decision.

State television reported that Mubarak had suffered a "health crisis" while aboard a military helicopter transporting him from court to prison. No further details were given.

Mubarak’s former interior minister, Habib al-Adli, was also handed a life sentence in connection with the killings, which occurred during a crackdown on dissent that came in the early days of the uprising. Six senior police officers, also on trial, were acquitted.

Corruption charges against Mubarak’s sons Alaa and Gamal were dropped, as they had expired under the country's statute of limitations.

Scuffles break out

Members of the public in the courtroom following the proceedings scuffled with security guards immediately after the presiding judge, Ahmed Refaat, read out Mubarak’s sentence. One man held up a sign demanding a death sentence for the former president, who ruled Egypt for three decades.

Outside of the court, though, the mood was mixed, with some people breaking out in celebration, with many in the crowd chanting, "God is great." Others, though, chanted "void, void."

Protests began to gain steam after word got out that the six police officers on trial, former aides to the interior minister, had been acquitted. Clashes broke out with police decked out in riot gear. Demonstrators also started to assemble in Tahrir Square, which was at the center of the protests that ultimately brought down President Mubarak.

The 84-year-old Mubarak, who is in ill health, had arrived at the court at the police academy on the outskirts of Cairo by helicopter. He had then been wheeled on a stretcher into a caged dock in the courtroom, from where the defendants followed the proceedings. Following Saturday's ruling, he was moved to the hospital at Tora prison outside of the city.

A protester holds a rope and a balance in front of security forces next to the court house at the police academy in Cairo where former president Mubarak was tried

Mubarak's life sentence didn't go far enough for some

Security around the police academy had been tight throughout the 10-month-long trial. On Saturday, hundreds of police officers in riot gear surrounded the complex.

Presidential run-off

Mubarak is the only leader toppled in last year’s Arab Spring to be put on trial. He is also the first former leader in the history of Egypt to be put on trial by his own people.

His trial comes at a politically sensitive time for Egypt, with a fortnight to go before the run-off in the country’s presidential election. The second-round vote pits a former prime minister under Mubarak - Ahmed Shafiq - against Mohammed Mursi, the candidate from the political party of the Muslim Brotherhood, which was banned under Mubarak.

Once a winner from the polls has been determined, the military council, which has ruled the country since Mubarak was toppled, is supposed to hand over power.

pfd/sad (Reuters, dpa, AFP)