The former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison yesterday for failing to stop the killing of some 850 protesters during the uprisings that forced him from power last year, but his acquittal on separate corruption charges saw angry scenes erupt on Cairo's streets.
Relatives of the murdered demonstrators, who had gathered at the Cairo courtroom for the verdict, responded with jubilation to the lengthy imprisonment. But their celebrations turned ugly as word of the acquittals filtered through. Mubarak's sons, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, were also acquitted of corruption, although they face a separate trial on charges of insider trading.
The drama continued as the ailing 84-year-old Mubarak suffered a "health crisis" while on a helicopter to the Tora prison hospital in Cairo, according to officials. One state media report said it was a heart attack. The officials revealed that after sentencing, Mubarak had cried in protest and resisted leaving the helicopter that took him away.
In stark contrast, the ousted dictator had sat stony-faced and frowning behind dark sunglasses when Judge Ahmed Refaat read out the conviction and sentence against him.
Handing down his long-awaited verdict, the judge described the Mubarak era as "30 years of darkness" that ended only when Egyptians rose up to demand change.