Egypt's Mubarak stays in detention despite second release order

Reuters News
Posted: Apr 20, 2013 11:02 AM
Egypt's Mubarak stays in detention despite second release order

CAIRO (Reuters) - A Cairo court on Saturday ordered Egypt's former president Hosni Mubarak released pending a verdict on illicit gains charges, the second release order in a week, but he will remain in detention because he still faces other charges, court sources said.

The appeal hearing on Saturday was held in Torah prison, to where 84-year-old Mubarak was transferred from an army hospital on Wednesday after an apparent improvement in his fragile health.

Earlier this week, a judge ordered Mubarak's release on bail pending a retrial over charges of complicity in the murder of protesters in the 2011 uprising that unseated him, but court officials said he would remain in detention over graft charges.

The country's public prosecutor, appointed by new Islamist president, Mohamed Mursi, on Saturday filed an appeal against the second order to release Mubarak, a security source said.

Mubarak, who ruled Egypt for almost 30 years before being toppled by the 18-day popular uprising in 2011, was convicted last June along with former Interior Minister Habib el-Adli of failing to prevent the killings of more than 800 demonstrators.

Mubarak and Adli were sentenced to life imprisonment, but the country's highest appeals court ordered a retrial in January. However, the case is facing a delay after the retrial was aborted last week when the presiding judge withdrew from the case.

The convoluted legal process has highlighted the difficulty of transitional justice in a country where many of the judges were appointed during the Mubarak era. Opponents of President Mohamed Mursi accuse him and his Islamist supporters of seeking to control Egypt's legal institutions.

On Friday at least 115 people were injured in clashes between Islamists and their opponents, the health ministry said. The Islamist protesters were demanding a purge of Egypt's judiciary, which they see as a redoubt of old regime influence.

The issue has divided many Egyptians and led to repeated street violence.

In comments to al Jazeera television on Saturday, Mursi said: "I hear the word purge in the context of fear and this fear is legitimate among people as sometimes verdicts are issued that are not clear in justice in the way people see it."

"The acquittals of symbols of the former regime worry people. (But) the judge could be fair in his verdict according to what is available to him in terms of information and evidence."

(Reporting by Shaimaa Fayed; Editing by Rosalind Russell)