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Africa

Egyptian ex-president Hosni Mubarak leaves prison

© AFP

Video by Adam PLETTS

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2013-08-22

Egyptian ex-president Hosni Mubarak was released from prison on Thursday and transported by helicopter to a military hospital where he will remain under house arrest pending a re-trial on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters in 2011.

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was flown from prison by helicopter to a military hospital on Thursday after judicial authorities ordered his release from jail.

Footage shown on a private TV station showed the helicopter departing from Tora prison on the southern outskirts of Cairo and landing minutes later at a military hospital in the nearby suburb of Maadi.

Mubarak, 85, who is believed to be suffering from a heart condition, will be held under house arrest at the hospital on the orders of Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi.

El-Beblawi ordered the house arrest as part of the emergency measures imposed this month after a wave of violence sparked by Islamist leader Mohammed Morsi’s ouster.

The decision appeared designed to ease some of the criticism over Mubarak being freed from prison and ensure that he appears in court next week for a new trial.

The decision to release Mubarak, who enjoyed near absolute power for three decades as president before a 2011 uprising overthrew him, is likely to have riled many of the hundreds of thousands of people who campaigned for his ouster.

But amid a brutal police crackdown on supporters of the country’s first democratically elected president, Morsi – himself overthrown last month – few are eager to take to the streets in protest.

"This has come as a harsh blow for those who demonstrated for Mubarak’s downfall but there’s really very little they can do following the military’s brutal crackdowns and with the curfew that’s in place,” FRANCE 24 Cairo correspondent Adam Pletts reported from the capital. “It’s very clear who’s in charge and there’s a sense that the army is looking after one of its own – let’s not forget that Mubarak was a military man himself.”

'Full circle'

Mubarak’s spectacular fall from grace sent shock waves across the Middle East and beyond when he announced his resignation on February 11, 2011 after an 18-day popular revolt.

Until then, Mubarak had seemed untouchable as president of the most populous nation in the Arab world and with the backing of both the United States and Egypt’s own powerful military.

His regime mercilessly crushed militant groups, which carried out attacks in the 1980s, 1990s and, more recently, in 2004 and 2006, when tourist resorts were targeted.

He had survived 10 attempts on his life, most of them by Islamist militants.

But when the 2011 uprising erupted, Washington deserted him and the Egyptian army slowly began to distance itself in the face of mass unrest.

Two months after his resignation, he was arrested and subsequently charged with various crimes, including corruption and inciting the deaths of at least 850 people killed during the uprising.

Last year, he was convicted and sentenced to life in prison, during which time Morsi was ruling the country.

Morsi was ousted during a popular revolt backed by the military in July, throwing the country back into chaos.

“It was really Mubarak’s ouster in 2011 that opened this tumultuous chapter in Egypt’s history,” Pletts said. “Many people feel that the country has come full circle [since his ouster].”

Mubarak’s next hearing is scheduled for Sunday, with the case likely to drag on for months.

(FRANCE 24 with wires)

Date created : 2013-08-22

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