Egyptian Court sentences Mubarak and sons to 3 years in prison
A Cairo court sentenced Egypt's deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to three years in prison on corruption charges on Saturday – a punishment that authorities may deem as having already been served but one which, if it withstands appeal, would officially establish Mubarak as a convicted criminal four years after the 2011 popular uprising that toppled him.
The case – dubbed the "presidential palaces" affair by the Egyptian media – was a retrial charging that Mubarak and his sons embezzled millions of dollars' worth of state funds over the course of a decade, diverting money that was meant to pay for the renovation and maintenance of presidential palaces to upgrade their private residences.
Mubarak had originally been sentenced to three years over the matter, and his sons to four, but they later appealed, sparking the retrial. As Egypt's political tides shifted in the wake of his overthrow, he had been convicted of bearing responsibility for the deaths of protesters but was later acquitted, although that ruling now faces an appeal by prosecutors.
Inside the courtroom at a sprawling, locked-down police academy on the outskirts of Cairo, a dozen Mubarak supporters shouted in anger as Judge Hassan Hassanin announced his verdict, standing up on benches and pumping their fists into the air. The three defendants stood in a courtroom cage soundproofed with a glass enclosure. "We believe in you! We trust Mubarak!" supporters yelled, as some women began crying. Others wearing T-shirts emblazoned with the former leader's face waved and blew kisses when the 87-year-old entered the courtroom.
Many Egyptians view Gamal, Mubarak's one-time heir apparent, and his brother Alaa, a wealthy businessman, as key symbols of an autocratic and corrupt administration that struck an alliance with the mega-wealthy at the expense of the poor. Although father and son repeatedly denied any plans to have Gamal ascend to the presidency, that perception, along with endemic corruption, police brutality and poverty, fuelled the 2011 revolt.
Images of Gamal making public appearances have circulated on social media, first at a funeral last month and then last weekend with his family at the Giza pyramids. Amid the turmoil that followed the revolution, nostalgia over the relative stability of the Mubarak-era has been growing in Egypt. (AP)
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