Thousands in Egypt Protest Mubarak Verdict

Posted June 2nd, 2012 at 6:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets across the country late Saturday to protest the verdicts in the trial of former President Hosni Mubarak, former interior minister Habib al-Adly and six top security officials.

The ousted leader was found guilty for his role in the killings of hundreds of anti-government protesters during the first week of the uprising in February 2011 that forced his downfall, and was given a life sentence. Prosecutors had called for the harsher punishment, but the presiding judge said that although Mubarak failed to prevent the deaths, he was not directly responsible for them.

The much hated interior minister was also found guilty and given the same sentence, but the top security officials were acquitted.

The court also acquitted Mubarak, his two sons Gamal and Alaa, and others of corruption charges.

Demonstrators turned out in Cairo, Alexandria, Suez and other cities. In Cairo, people flooded Tahrir Square, the center of the revolution, demanding everything from a retrial to the death penalty for Mubarak. The crowd also protested the acquittal of the security officials.

Some were furious that Mubarak, his two sons Gamal and Alaa, and others were acquitted of corruption charges. They suspect that the vast wealth allegedly accumulated by the Mubarak family would remain in their hands.

Earlier in the day, jubilant Mubarak opponents embraced and wept outside of the Cairo courthouse as the verdicts were announced. But the joy turned quickly into anger as the implications of the verdicts were absorbed and the chance they could be easily overturned became clearer.

VOA correspondent Elizabeth Arrott visited Tahrir Square and described the mood there.

“They are waving the Egyptian flag. They are shouting for a cleansing of the judiciary. They are calling for new trials. And, it is quite a broad spectrum of people who have gone down there.”

Meanwhile, Egyptian state media say Mubarak suffered an unspecified “health crisis” after the verdict. He received treatment at a prison hospital. The 84-year-old former president had consistently arrived in court on a stretcher.

Mubarak's abrupt resignation in February 2011 ended his almost 30-year rule in Egypt. His lawyers are expected to appeal his sentence.

The verdict and sentencing come as Egypt remains divided over who will replace the 84-year-old Mubarak. The first presidential elections since his ouster pit an Islamist Mohammed Morsi against Ahmed Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak.