Life sentence for Hosni Mubarak

Ex-President Hosni Mubarak hears the verdict. Photo / AP
Ex-President Hosni Mubarak hears the verdict. Photo / AP

Ailing former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was yesterday found guilty of the murder of demonstrators during the uprising that overthrew him last year.

Mubarak, 84, is the only autocrat toppled in the Arab Spring to be put in the dock. His former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly also received a life sentence but six former police commandants were acquitted.

Chief Judge Ahmed Rifaat found Mubarak and al-Adly guilty of ordering the deaths of an estimated 850 people killed.

The verdict was broadcast live on Egyptian state television.

Mubarak's sons Alaa and Gamal were acquitted on corruption charges they faced with business associate Hussein Salem, who fled to Spain, over an alleged bribe.

And the former President was also accused of selling natural gas to Israel at lower than market prices.

Scuffles took place in the court, in a police academy once named after Mubarak on Cairo's outskirts, when the verdict was read out.

A security official said 5000 policemen and 2000 soldiers secured the area, to which Mubarak was flown by helicopter from hospital.

Mubarak has been detained in hospital since his arrest last year after the military, which took power after he resigned, appeared to bow to popular protests demanding that he and former regime officials be put on trial.

But the military insists the prosecution's investigations and the charges eventually filed were independent decisions.

During the trial, Mubarak was wheeled on a stretcher into the lecture hall that served as a courtroom. He reportedly suffers from a heart condition, but the Health Ministry has denied his lawyer's claim that he has cancer.

All the accused denied that they ordered police to shoot protesters or use deadly force during the uprising, in which demonstrators torched police stations across the country.

The verdict comes just two weeks before a run-off in presidential elections that will pit Mubarak's former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq against Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Mursi in a highly polarising race.

It is the first openly contested presidential election in any of the Arab countries swept by regional protests and uprisings that challenged decades of autocratic rule.

But the revolt also led to a deteriorating economy and increased lawlessness in Egypt that has helped Shafiq, a symbol of Mubarak's regime, win a surprising amount of support.

- AFP

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