Hosni Mubarak Walks Free
Thursday, 30 March 2017
by Erin McAllister, Paralegal
He had been sentenced to life in 2012 but an appeals court dismissed the charges two years later. Mubarak, 88 left a military hospital in Cairo where he had been held in custody and returned to his home in the upscale Heliopolis district under heavy security.
The order to release him was the latest in a series of rulings in recent years that acquitted about two dozen, Mubarak-era cabinet ministers, top police officers and aides charged with graft or in connection with the killing of protesters during the uprising. Some of those acquitted have made a comeback in public life, while others partially paid back fortunes amassed illegally.
A former air force chief and vice president, Mubarak became president after fighters who had infiltrated the army shot dead president Anwar Sadat during a military parade in 1981. Mubarak, then vice president, was standing next to Sadat during the attack and was shot in the hand. He was sworn in as president eight days later.
Activists say Mubarak's acquittal in the deaths of the protesters confirmed long-held suspicions that he and scores of police who faced the same charges would never be brought to justice. It also made it clear to activists and human rights campaigners how their "revolution" effectively had been reversed by President Abdel-Fattah el-Sisi. The general-turned-politician has restored the status quo in a country ruled by men of military background for most of the last six decades.
Despite describing the revolution that ended Mubarak’s rule as a turning point in Egypt’s history, Sisi and his military-backed government are regarded as Mubarak’s political heirs. “I think that Mubarak’s release was something expected as his students are ruling the country,” said Mahienour el Massry, an activist and lawyer who served 15 months in prison under Sisi’s rule. “The same regime, the same corruption, the same brutality.”
“Mubarak might be released, but in the eyes of those who believe in the revolution he will always be a criminal killer and the godfather of corruption,” she said. “This might be another round that we have lost, but we will keep on fighting to change the inhuman regime that releases criminals and imprisons innocent people.”
Mubarak’s release comes amid an economic crisis following years of political tumult and worsening security. Egyptians complain of empty pockets and inflation exceeds 30%. The economic crisis and the high prices take priority over everything, as does the fear of terrorism.
Mubarak’s release marked a new chapter for the former autocrat whose people rose up against him in 2011 and demanded an end to his 30 years in power marked by corruption, economic inequity and reliance on a much-feared security apparatus. It also underscored the failed aspirations of the Arab Spring movement that swept the region. Six years later, mass uprisings in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria have led to civil war, failed states or a return to heavy-handed rule.