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UPDATE: Egypt’s top prosecutor will be appealing the verdicts in the trial that sentenced former president Hosni Mubarak to life in prison while acquitting him and his sons of corruption charges. The court also cleared six senior police officers on charges of complicity in the killings of protesters. Under local law, the prosecutor has to appeal the entire verdict, which included life sentences for Mubarak and a top official for their failure to stop the killings last year, explains the Associated Press.
Lots of Egyptians spent Saturday night in the streets, protesting against the judges who had decided to spare Mubarak’s life. It wasn't just that Mubarak wasn't sentenced to death but the fact that he was acquitted on other charges along with senior police officers was seen as an example of how figures in the old regime still play an important role in the country’s affairs, reports Reuters. Many protesters who feel they were instrumental in ousting Mubarak have been using the verdict to express their bitter disappointment that later this month they’re going to have to select a president between a Muslim Brotherhood candidate and Mubarak’s last prime minister, notes Al Jazeera.
Saturday, June 2: It was a day of mixed emotions for Egyptians. First, there was a moment of widespread celebration after a judge announced that former president Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for his complicity in the killing of unarmed protesters during the uprising that pushed him from power last year, reports the Associated Press.
There was reason to celebrate. After all, the 84-year-old former strongman became the first former leader to be tried in person since the wave of uprisings in the region commonly referred to as the Arab Spring. (Tunisia’s Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali was convicted in absentia last year, points out the New York Times.) Mubarak’s former interior minister Habib el-Adly was also sentenced to life in prison for the same reasons.
Yet the celebration quickly turned to anger when it became clear the three-judge panel had also acquitted Mubarak and his sons, along with a business associate, of corruption charges. They also acquitted six senior police officers of the killings due to a lack of evidence, notes the Washington Post. Protests quickly broke out across the country and demonstrators gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, the heart of the uprising that ousted Mubarak.
Egyptians weren’t just angry that Mubarak didn’t get a harsher sentence, but also because the judges exposed weaknesses in the overall case that could make it likely the former leader would get off in an appeal, points out Reuters.
The acquittal of the lower level police officers raises immediate questions about the chain of command for the killings, a likely argument for an appeal. The judge said prosecutors weren’t able to prove that Mubarak or his top aides ordered the killings, which is why he ended up being convicted of failing to stop them, amounting to “an unusually low standard of proof for a murder conviction under either Egyptian or international law,” notes the Times.
Mubarak suffered a heart attack on the helicopter that transported him to the prison’s military hospital and for two hours refused to step out of the helicopter, notes the Associated Press.
The verdict will now undoubtedly be part of the presidential campaign two weeks before Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister faces Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohamed Mursi in the run-off election. Some analysts believe the verdict could end up hurting Shafiq’s chances. Mursi has already said he would use his powers as president to make sure Mubarak never leaves prison, notes Reuters.