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

Ruling adds to feeling that revolution has been hijacked


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
peopleFrankie Boyle responds to referendum result in characteristically offensive style
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
New Articles
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
Arts and Entertainment
musicBiographer Hunter Davies has collected nearly a hundred original manuscripts
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Cover Supervisor

£75 - £90 per day + negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Are you a cover supe...

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam