‘Everything is back to where it started’ as Egyptian court orders Hosni Mubarak’s release

Ruling adds to feeling that revolution has been hijacked

Cairo

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled during the 2011 revolt after 30 years in power, could be freed from prison as early as tomorrow after a court ordered his release.

Convening at Cairo's Tora jail complex - where Mubarak has been held since he was sentenced to life in prison last year for complicity in the killing of protesters during the uprising - the court today removed the last legal grounds for his imprisonment in connection with a separate corruption charge.

Earlier this year, a different court session accepted his appeal over the conviction in connection with protester deaths and ordered a retrial.

But the 85-year-old had already served the maximum pre-trial detention for that case, allowing the ruling to pave the way for his release.

Asked when his client would go free, Mubarak's lawyer, Fareed al-Deeb, told Reuters it could be tomorrow.

Sharing the same prison as Mubarak are members of the Muslim Brotherhood movement. Many were rounded up and detained after the popular coup which led to the downfall of Mohamed Morsi, the Brotherhood figure who succeeded Mubarak when he was elected last year.

Several hundred people have died over the past week as security forces launched a brutal crackdown against supporters of Mr Morsi and anti-coup protesters. Islamists have responded by attacking churches and killing dozens of police.

On January 25, 2011, the first day of what would soon become the Egyptian revolt, Bashar Abdel Menem was marching through the streets of Cairo in defiance of Mubarak.

“This is the first chance the people have got to express how messed-up the country is,” he told The Independent back then, as thousands of protesters stomped towards Tahrir Square.

More than two and a half years on, Mr Abdel Menem, now a 24-year-old doctor, said he is feeling “speechless”.

“Everything is back to where it started,” he said. “We're back to square one. Back to nothing.

”The people who started this revolution are now sitting at home and not wanting to be involved in the process. The members of the Muslim Brotherhood, who utilised the revolution for their own advantages, are now in prison. And the people who the revolution was against in the first place are now free.“

Despite the court ruling, because he continues to face charges, Mubarak will be kept under house arrest in Egypt and his assets will remain frozen.

His two sons, Gamal and Alaa, and Egypt's former Interior Minister Habib el-Adly, remain in prison on corruption charges.

Some liberals in Egypt said although they do not agree with the ruling, they believe the judiciary's decision should be respected.

Yet the development has nevertheless contributed to a sense that Egypt's revolution - if it was ever worthy of the name - has been hijacked by the reactionary forces of the military, the security services and the Mubarak-era establishment.

”Right now, there is no such thing as the revolution,“ said Ramy el-Swissy, a member of April 6, one of the leading youth movements which spearheaded the 2011 protests.

According to Egyptian journalist Heba Afify, the promise of Mubarak's release symbolises a ”complete and very obvious reversal“ of the insurrection which shook the Middle East.

On the day after January 25, 2011, Ms Affify was with The Independent when groups of activists were being rounded up by the security services near Cairo University. Reporters and protesters were bundled into a van by plain clothes secret police who were trying to stifle the revolt.

”Back then, ultimately what people wanted was a better life,“ she said. ”At the time, people felt that democracy, freedom and getting rid of Hosni Mubarak would get people this better life.

“But over the past two and a half years, it turned out that for some, the revolution took them on a worse turn. I'm not sure what percentage of the population still believes this better life is guaranteed by democracy.”

Even some families of those who were killed during the 2011 uprising appear willing to forgive Mubarak, according to Hassan Abu el-Emin, a lawyer who represented nearly 150 victims during the ex-leader's trial.

“Some of my clients now think that Hosni Mubarak had nothing to do with the deaths during the revolution,” he said. “But others say that no, they still think he is guilty.”

Mr el-Emin added that the unrest of the past two months and allegations of Muslim Brotherhood violence had contributed to a reappraisal of Mubarak's legacy.

EU suspends export of military equipment to Egypt

European Union foreign ministers have agreed to suspend export licences for arms which could be used for “internal repression” in Egypt, but will maintain €5bn (£4.25bn) in development aid.

Some of the 28 member states had been pushing to halt the economic assistance pledged last year, in protest at the military crackdown against Muslim Brotherhood demonstrators, which has left several hundred people dead in the past week.

But the majority of the aid goes to civil society groups rather than the Egyptian government or military, and Catherine Ashton, the EU’s foreign affairs envoy, said  that “assistance to the most vulnerable groups and to civil society must continue”.

The aid will remain under review, the foreign ministers said in a statement after their emergency meeting in Brussels, which also condemned “in  the clearest possible terms”  the recent violence and “disproportionate” use of force by the security forces.

The bloc pledged to “suspend export licences to Egypt of any equipment which might be used for internal repression”. It is  now up to individual member states to decide what equipment falls under that definition.

Charlotte McDonald-Gibson

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links