‘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
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
tech
News
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Mystery man: Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike in '‘Gone Girl'
films... by the director David Fincher
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
News
Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his inspection of the Korean People's Army (KPA) Naval Unit 167
newsSouth Korean reports suggest rumours of a coup were unfounded
News
people'I’d rather have Fred and Rose West quote my characters on childcare'
Life and Style
stoptober... when the patch, gum and cold turkey had all failed
Travel
Bruce Chatwin's novel 'On the Black Hill' was set at The Vision Farm
travelOne of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
Arts and Entertainment
Gay and OK: a scene from 'Pride'
filmsUS film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
News
people
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

LSA Level 3 required in Caerphilly

£50 - £60 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job: O...

Welsh Year 6 Teacher required in Barry

£100 - £110 per day + Plus travel scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Welsh Teacher Year 2 required in Caerphilly

£100 - £105 per day + plus Travel Scheme: Randstad Education Cardiff: The Job:...

Day In a Page

Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

The children orphaned by Ebola...

... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

Are censors pandering to homophobia?

US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
The magic of roundabouts

Lords of the rings

Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
Why do we like making lists?

Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

Paris Fashion Week

Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
10 best children's nightwear

10 best children's nightwear

Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

Manchester City vs Roma

Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

Trouble on the Tyne

Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

Last chance to see...

The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

Truth behind teens' grumpiness

Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

Hacked photos: the third wave

Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?