On the home stretch: Egypt is divided over ousted dictator Hosni Mubarak’s release
Freeing the jailed leader symbolises ‘return to the practices of the old state’
Thursday 22 August 2013
As Hosni Mubarak was released from prison today and whisked away by helicopter, he was caught on camera flashing a smile.
Some Egyptians, exhausted by years of continual unrest, will have welcomed today’s development. But for others, the ex-dictator’s grin would have been a cruel indictment of the sacrifices made to secure his ouster in 2011.
After days of speculation about the fate of Egypt’s former president, he was finally freed from prison and transported to a military hospital near the banks of the Nile.
Local TV stations showed footage of the 85-year-old being carried in the helicopter and then landing at the military hospital.
“I’m very sad,” said Hazem Bassiouni, an activist who has been involved in numerous street clashes against the police and army since Mr Mubarak was toppled, said: “He has been released and we have achieved nothing.”
Last year Mr Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killing of protesters during the January 2011 uprising. But earlier this year a court accepted an appeal by his lawyers and ordered a retrial in the case.
By April this year, the former Egyptian leader had already served the maximum pretrial detention period behind bars and was being held in connection with a separate corruption case.
This week, two court rulings removed the last legal justification for his detention – a decision which led to the toppled autocrat being released from prison. He is still being retried on charges related to the killing of protesters.
According to Emad Shahin, a Cairo-based political expert, the developments marked a victory for Egypt’s “counter-revolutionary” forces: “The release of Hosni Mubarak symbolises a return to the practices of the old state,” he said.
Since 3 July, when Egypt’s military mounted a popular coup against President Mohamed Morsi, on the back of huge nationwide protests, the country has been sinking into a bloody mire of state-sponsored massacres and anti-Christian reprisal attacks.
Several hundred people have been killed since last week, including scores of police and soldiers, while churches and homes owned by Christians have been torched and attacked.
In response, Egypt’s security services have rounded up hundreds of Islamists and a night-time curfew has been declared in Cairo.
All the while a toxic sense of polarisation has seeped into the national debate. To criticise the state’s conduct is now to invite accusations of treachery, while to express dismay at the bloodshed is to risk accusations of naivety.
Khaled Dawoud, a former spokesman for the National Salvation Front – the leading liberal political coalition – quit his position recently after being asked to read a statement that supported the police’s conduct during last week’s massacre of Islamists in eastern Cairo.
Dr Hisham Hellyer, an Egypt expert at the Washington-based Brookings Institution, told The Independent: “If Mohamed Morsi had still been in charge today, he would probably be doing the same”.
Dr Hellyer also noted that Mr Mubarak’s release was in accordance with Egyptian law. “Symbolically it’s a mess,” he said. “But honestly, it’s just a bad coincidence.”
Jo from Northern Ireland was less than impressed by Russell Brand's attempt to stage a publicity stunt
When teaching the meaning of Christmas backfires
- 2 Harry Potter fans can apply to the Hogwarts-inspired College of Wizardry
- 3 Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
- 4 Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
- 5 Orange Wednesdays are no more
Weather bomb in pictures: Storms cuts power for tens of thousands – and snow is on the way
Jessica Chambers: 19-year-old woman 'doused with lighter fluid and burned alive' in the US
Russell Brand calls Nigel Farage 'poundshop Enoch Powell' in BBC Question Time debate
Russell Brand was rendered speechless on Question Time by this man
Fury at Airbus after it hints the super-jumbo may be mothballed
Nigel Farage: Me vs Russell Brand on Question Time – he's got the chest hair but where are his ideas?
Shock poll shows voters believe Ukip is to the left of the Tories
New era of cheap oil 'will destroy green revolution'
Disgruntled RBS worker writes hilarious open letter to Russell Brand after anti-capitalist publicity stunt leaves him hungry
Ukip founder Alan Sked and Nigel Farage 'begged Enoch Powell to stand as a candidate'
Ukip candidate jokes about 'shooting peasants' in racist and homophobic rant
£25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established media firm based in Surrey is ...
£40000 - £470000 per annum + bonus: Ashdown Group: Java Developer / J2EE Devel...
£70000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Head of Finance - Financial Controller - Fina...
£30000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This small technology business ...