Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was ordered to face a retrial today after winning an appeal against his life sentence on charges that he failed to prevent the killing of hundreds of protesters during the uprising that toppled his regime nearly two years ago.
The ruling read out by judge Ahmed Ali Abdel-Rahman during the brief court session also overturned the conviction of Mubarak's security chief Habib el-Adly, who is also serving a life sentence for his conviction on the same charges. He too will be retried.
Mubarak will not walk free, as he is being held for investigation on other charges. The defendants were not present in the courtroom. The 84-year-old ex-president, currently in a military hospital, was reported last year to have been close to death, but the current state of his health is unknown.
Mubarak's defence lawyers had argued that the former president did not know of the killings, but an Egyptian fact-finding mission has determined that he watched the uprising against him unfold through a live TV feed at his palace.
The mission's report could hold both political opportunities and dangers for Mubarak's successor, Islamist Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. A new Mubarak trial would be popular, since many Egyptians were angered he was convicted for failing to stop the killings, rather than ordering the crackdown.
But the report also implicates the military and security officials in the protesters' deaths. Any move to prosecute them could spark a backlash from the powerful police and others who still hold positions under Morsi's government.
Abdel-Rahman also granted the prosecution's request to overturn not-guilty verdicts on Mubarak, his two sons and an associate of the former president, Hussein Salem, on corruption charges. Salem was tried in absentia and remains at large.
The judge also ordered the retrial of six of el-Adly's top aides who were acquitted in the same trial. Five of them were found not guilty of involvement in the killing of the protesters, while one was acquitted of "gross negligence."
No date has been set for the start of the retrial of the 11 and it was not immediately clear if all of them would be brought before the same court as was the case in their first trial.
Today's ruling came one day after a prosecutor placed a new detention order on Mubarak over gifts worth millions of Egyptian pounds he and other regime officials allegedly received from Egypt's top newspaper, Al-Ahram, as a show of loyalty while he was in power.
The public funds prosecutor ordered Mubarak be held for 15 days pending the completion of the investigation. Mubarak, 84, was moved to a Cairo military hospital last month after slipping inside a prison bathroom and injuring himself.
Mubarak's sons, one-time heir apparent Gamal and businessman Alaa, are in prison while on being tried for alleged insider trading and using their influence to buy state land at a fraction of its market price.