CAIRO — Egypt’s military-led government said Sunday it would appeal the weak verdicts delivered by a court on Saturday against former President Hosni Mubarak, his sons and top security officials of his government — verdicts that have intensified the polarization gripping Egypt two weeks before the runoff to decide the nation’s first competitive presidential race.
Thousands of protesters gathered in Cairo and other cities for a second night Sunday to vent their anger at the verdicts, which many considered too weak. Mohamed Morsi, the presidential candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, stood with the protesters and pledged to press new charges against Mubarak if he is elected.
His opponent, Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister, lashed back Sunday in a sweeping attack on the Brotherhood, charging that the group was out for “revenge” against the former government, that it used to collaborate with the Mubarak government in secret deals, and that it now represented “chaos.”
In a cafe full of committed Shafiq supporters in the Delta town of Sindion, 30 miles from the capital, the prevailing view was as different from that in Tahrir Square as if a different decision had come down: a chorus of Shafiq voters called the decision a fair rebuke to the excesses of the Mubarak government that ought to close the books on it. “We should respect the rule of law,” said Oudo Mohamed Hassan, 60, the owner of a small leather factory. “We should move on, and look after our own interests.”
Judge Ahmed Rafaat found Mubarak and his former interior minister, Habib el-Adly, guilty of failing to stop police from killing demonstrators, and acquitted a half-dozen lower-level officials who had more direct responsibility. The judge also dismissed corruption charges against Mubarak and his sons on the ground that a statute of limitations had lapsed.
Mubarak, 84, woke up Sunday morning inside the Tora Prison for the first time. The state newspaper Al Ahram reported that after the verdict, Mubarak was shocked at his transfer from more comfortable accommodations at a military hospital to the prison. As soon as he found out that he was at the Tora Prison, the newspaper said, Mubarak began complaining of health problems. He refused for two and a half hours to leave the helicopter that carried him. He was issued a blue jumpsuit, but because of his health, he did not immediately pose for the customary mug shot holding his prison number. But when his sons, Gamal and Alaa — also prisoners — were brought, Mubarak’s condition improved, the paper said.