Egypt’s prosecutor fights dropping of Mubarak charges

“The prosecutor general has decided to appeal,” it said in a statement on Tuesday. It follows a Cairo court on Saturday ordering charges of murder and corruption to be dropped against Mubarak, who ruled for three decades until being driven from office during the 2011 uprising.

“The ruling was marred by a legal flaw,” the prosecutor’s office said, adding that its decision to appeal was “not influenced by disputes among political groups”.

Mubarak is serving a three-year sentence in a separate graft case.

Seven of Mubarak’s security commanders, including feared ex-interior minister Habib al-Adly, were acquitted on Saturday over the deaths of roughly 800 protesters during the 2011 revolt.

Corruption charges against Mubarak’s sons Alaa and Gamal were also dropped.

The Court of Cassation, the country’s highest court, can now either confirm Saturday’s ruling or decide to cancel it, in which case it would consider the case itself.

An appeals court had previously overturned an initial life sentence for Mubarak in 2012 on a technicality, ordering the retrial that saw the charges dropped on Saturday.

Early release
His lawyer has said the 86-year-old could now see an early release from the military hospital where he is being held, as he has already served two-thirds of his sentence when time held in preliminary detention since his arrest in 2011 is taken into account.

After Saturday’s verdict, more than 1000 protesters gathered at an entrance to Cairo’s Tahrir Square – the epicentre of the anti-Mubarak revolt – chanting slogans against the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

Resulting clashes left two people dead and several wounded.

The court’s ruling has come under fire from Mubarak opponents, critics and some leftist leaders, and sparked accusations that the authorities are interfering with the courts.

The government has denied any involvement in court rulings and on Sunday Sisi ordered a review of the criminal code to prevent any legal irregularities.

In his first comment on the verdict, Sisi, who was Mubarak’s intelligence chief, said Egypt was charting a new course.

“The new Egypt … is on a path to establish a modern democratic state based on justice, freedom, equality and a renunciation of corruption,” he said.

Mass trials
The military last year overthrew Mubarak’s Islamist successor, Mohamed Morsi, following mass protests.

A government crackdown targeting Morsi’s supporters has since left at least 1 400 people dead and thousands imprisoned.

Dozens of Morsi supporters have also been sentenced to death or lengthy jail terms after speedy mass trials, which the United Nations says is “unprecedented” in recent history.

Critics accuse Sisi of instituting a regime even more authoritarian than Mubarak’s, stifling dissent and counting on the support of a public exhausted by years of instability.

They say the judiciary, which includes many judges hostile to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, has become one of the government’s main instruments of quashing dissent. – AFP

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