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Mubarak released from jail, flown to nearby hospital

By Agencies in Cairo | China Daily | Updated: 2013-08-23 08:31

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was flown from prison to a nearby hospital on Thursday, officials said, after judicial authorities ordered his release from jail.

A medical helicopter was seen departing from Tora prison on the southern outskirts of Cairo. It landed minutes later at a military hospital in the nearby suburb of Maadi. The prime minister's office said Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for 30 years until he was overthrown in 2011 as uprisings swept the Arab world, would be placed under house arrest.

That decision was made under a month-long state of emergency declared last week when police stormed protest camps set up in Cairo by the Islamist movement to demand Morsi's reinstatement.

Mubarak's imminent release dismayed some Egyptians.

"He is a man who destroyed this country. And now he's going to walk free?" said a man who said he was trying to find out if his brother, arrested on Saturday, was in Cairo's Tora prison, where the 85-year-old former president is held.

"Egypt is on the brink, and God knows where we are going," said the man with graying hair and a close-trimmed beard. He would not give his name, describing himself as a Morsi supporter but not a member of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He was among about 75 people lining up at the prison gate in scorching heat to visit family members inside.

Across from the gate, a score of visiting relatives sat in the shade along a high concrete prison wall, waiting their turn.

"We love Mubarak," said Mohammed Hussein, 36, who is unemployed. His sister Fatheya chimed in, "Isn't it enough that for 30 years he did not drag us into a war, and let us live in dignity?"

Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to prevent the killing of demonstrators. But a court accepted his appeal earlier this year and ordered a retrial.

This week, two court rulings in separate corruption cases removed the last legal grounds for his continued detention.

According to Gamal Zahran, chief of the political science department at Port Said University, Mubarak's release will merely add to the skepticism of Egyptians with regard to the fate of Egypt and the outcome of the 2011 uprising.

However, his release from jail will have no immediate impact on the ongoing stalemate between the military-backed government and forces backing former president Morsi, Zahran said.

"His release will add to the atmosphere of cynicism in Egypt," he said.


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