An Egyptian court has dropped all charges against overthrown President Hosni Mubarak in connection with the killing of 240 protesters during the 2011 Arab Spring.
His former interior minister, Habib el-Adly, and six aides were also cleared of charges related to the deaths, during protests against the regime centred in Cairo's Tahrir Square.
Almost 900 protesters were killed in the 18-day uprising that ended when Mubarak stepped down but the trial was concerned only with the killing of 239 protesters, whose names were listed on court documents.
“There is no justice for the poor,” said Ramadan Ahmed, whose son Mohammed was shot dead in Alexandria during the uprising. “This is Mubarak's law!”
Judge Mahmoud al-Rashidi told the court that the dismissal of charges did not absolve the disgraced politician of the "corruption" and "weakness" of the latter years of his 29-year rule and praised the January 2011 uprising, saying that its goals of freedom and social justice were justified.
“To rule for or against [Mubarak] after he has become old will be left to history and the Judge of Judges, the Righteous and the Justice (God) who will question him about his rule,” the judge added.
The reaction to the verdicts was muted, after the judge threatened to jail anyone in court if they interrupted the proceedings, but the courtroom broke into cheers and applause as soon as it was adjourned.
Footage of scenes outside the court showed devastated protesters shouting and screaming in anger at the verdict as riot police lined the streets in preparation for disruption.
The early days of the protests saw fierce street battles between demonstrators and police and Government supporters.
Footage showed vehicles hitting crowds, bricks and stones being hurled from the rooftops on to demonstrators in Tahrir Square and men on camels and horses beating protesters with batons and whips.
Almost 170 police officers and security officials put on trial in connection to the violence since 2011 have either been acquitted for lack of evidence or because they were found to have acted in self-defence. Others received short or suspended sentences.
The promise of the revolution has never been realised, as the military seized control in a coup over the elected Government headed by Mohamed Morsi last year.
In his short reign, Morsi had caused widespread discontent by attempting to prevent challenges to his decrees and extend the life of his constituent assembly, moves that sparked huge protests in the days before the coup.
He is also in prison facing a slew of charges, including some similarly related to the killing of protesters, which could see him sentenced to death.
Mubarak was also cleared of corruption charges related to gas exports to Israel, alongside a former oil ministers and further corruption charges against his sons, Alaa and Gamal, were also dropped.
He had been convicted and sentenced to life in prison for ordering the killing of protesters in 2012, but the verdict was overturned on appeal the following year.
Saturday's verdict concludes his retrial along with his two sons, his security chief and six top security commanders, who were all acquitted. Also on trial was businessman Hussein Salem, a longtime Mubarak friend tried in absentia, who was cleared.
Mubarak, who was also sentenced to three years in prison in March for embezzlement, has claimed he has cancer and made many of his appearances in court strapped to a hospital trolley.
It was not immediately clear whether he would now walk free - his three-and-a-half years in prison since April 2011 could be considered time served for the embezzlement conviction.
Mubarak was a military pilot who led the air force during Egypt's last war against Israel in 1973. He was made vice president in the mid-1970s and assumed office in 1981 following the assassination of Anwar Sadat.
Egypt's current military-backed Government has been accused of atrocities against supporters of Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood, killing hundreds who protested against his overthrow and jailing thousands more.
It has also imprisoned scores of secular activists, including some of the leaders of the 2011 uprising, for violating a draconian law regulating street protests that was adopted a year ago.
There has also been intimidation and violence against journalists covering the continuing unrest, including the shooting of photographer Ahmed Samir Assem in 2013, allegedly be a sniper.
Saturday's verdict came only a day after huge anti-Government protests where at least four people were killed, reportedly by security forces.
Additional reporting by agenciesReuse content