Former Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, yesterday received a life sentence for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the uprising that brought down his government last year and forced him from power.
Habib El Aldy, the minister of interior under him, was also sentenced to life in prison for involvement in the killings but the court acquitted Mubarak and two of his sons, Gamal and Alaa, of corruption charges.
The ousted president has been standing trial for allowing the killing of hundred – by some estimation, close to 1,000 – of people during the 18 – day people’s uprising in February 2011 which force him to resign from office.
Judge Ahmed Rifaat delivered the judgment in a make shift court room, a lecture room, which was once named after the former president.
An unsparing Judge Ahmed Rifaat described Mubarak’s reign as “30 years of darkness” which was terminated only by the people’s demand for democracy.
“They peacefully demanded democracy from rulers who held a tight grip on power,” the judge said.
Some of the charges against Mubarak and El Aldy carry the death sentence but the judge preferred to send them to prison for life.
As Rifaat read the conviction and sentence, Mubarak sat emotionless with his expressions concealed by big eyeglasses.
There are some reports that when he was transported to a prison facility after the sentencing, Mubarak broke out in tears and refused to alight from the helicopter that took him.
Since his trial began, the former president has been help in military hospitals, largely because of his failing health.
That will changed now with his conviction as he has to serve his sentence in a prison.
There was chaos outside the court as hundreds of mostly anti – Mubarak Egyptians jubilated as the life jail term was announced. Several youths threw rocks and fights broke out among them. Hundreds of anti – riot policemen were called to restrain the crowd, preventing them from storming the court house.
Many people in Egypt are angry that Gamal, heir apparent to Mubarak, and Alaa, a wealthy businessman, escaped being sentenced. There is also a lot of anger, particularly among family of victims of the killing, as several police officers brought to trial have either been acquitted or given light sentences.
Thousands of Egyptians gathered at the historic Tahir Square after the ruling denouncing the trial and chanting “Execute them”
Interestingly, Mubarak’s sentencing has come only a few days after Egypt’s presidential elections, the run – off of which will be between Ahmed Shafiq, former prime minister a protégé of the former ruler and Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, a fundamentalist Islamic group persecuted by the ex president.