Egypt's ousted leader Mubarak under house arrest
Cairo • Wearing a white T-shirt and flashing a smile, Hosni Mubarak was transferred from prison Thursday to a Nile-side military hospital where he will be under house arrest, a reversal of fortune for the former president who was ousted by a popular uprising and is on trial for complicity in the killing of protesters in 2011.
The release of the 85-year-old Mubarak comes amid a sweeping crackdown against the Muslim Brotherhood, which rose to power after the revolution only to see their Islamist president toppled by a military coup last month.
The latest twist of Mubarak's fate mirrored the country's rocky transition, with the longtime autocrat released from prison even as his democratically elected successor remained jailed at an undisclosed location. The release threatened to stoke tensions in the deeply divided country, reeling from violence and the unsettled politics that followed the military coup against Mohammed Morsi.
Many feared the decision to let Mubarak out of prison at such a tense time would serve as a rallying cry for Morsi's supporters against the country's interim leaders.
But there was little immediate reaction from the pro-Morsi camp, which called for street protests Friday against the July 3 coup, despite a sweeping arrest campaign that has seen hundreds of its leaders imprisoned.
On Thursday, nearly 80 Brotherhood members were taken into custody, including the group's spokesman, Ahmed Aref.
Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi ordered Mubarak placed under house arrest as part of emergency measures imposed last week after security forces forcibly dismantled two pro-Morsi protest camps, triggering a wave of violence that has killed more than 1,000 people.
The decision came after anti-Morsi groups called on the interim leadership to use the emergency measures to keep Mubarak locked up, arguing that his release posed a threat to national security.
The decision to place the ex-president under house arrest instead of letting him go free appeared designed to ease some of the criticism and to ensure that Mubarak is in court next week, where a retrial in the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising could place him back behind bars. He also is being investigated in at least two other corruption cases.
Footage on private TV stations showed the helicopter transporting Mubarak from Tora prison landing at a military hospital in the southern Cairo suburb of Maadi. Surrounded by armed troops in camouflage uniforms, he lay on a gurney, his hands grasping his head as he was placed in an ambulance for the short drive to the hospital.
Wearing sunglasses, a white T-shirt, khakis and white loafers, the former leader smiled briefly before disappearing inside the vehicle. As the ambulance drove away, guards, some with their guns drawn, ran after it, apparently fearing it might be targeted for attack.
A short time later, about two dozen protesters gathered on one of Cairo's main flyovers near Tahrir square, the epicenter of the protests that forced Mubarak from office. Wrapped in white shrouds and smeared with red paint representing the blood of those killed by security forces, they acted out a mock trial for the former leader.
"We demand the retrial of the killers of the revolutionaries," read a banner hung nearby. Another called for Mubarak, Morsi and military leaders to be tried in revolutionary courts.
Ibrahim Tamim, a member of the April 6 youth group that helped spearhead the uprising against Mubarak, said the mock trial was a reminder that retribution for victims of the uprising had not been realized and that people should not celebrate Mubarak's release or Morsi's fall.
"We are trying to remind people that the failure of the Muslim Brotherhood regime does not make Mubarak's regime good," said Tamim, wearing a face mask of one of the victims of the uprising.
Another youth group planned a rally Friday outside the country's high court to protest Mubarak's release. Activists and rights groups said the release is a reminder that none of the judicial reforms demanded by those who led the popular revolts against Mubarak and Morsi have been enacted.
Most of the regime officials, including Mubarak, tried for the killing of hundreds of protesters in the early days of the uprising have been released, as lawyers cited shoddy procedures and weak prosecutions and court cases.
Mubarak was held for several weeks of his two-year detention at the same military hospital where he is now under house arrest. His lawyers cited bad conditions in the prison facilities and prison authorities renovated the ward where he was later kept.
Security officials said authorities wanted Mubarak taken to the International Medical Center, a military facility on the desert road between Cairo and the Suez Canal city of Ismailia, because it is easier for police to protect due to its distance away from crowded areas.
But Mubarak insisted that he stay at the military hospital in Maadi because he was comfortable with the medical staff there, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Since his ouster, Mubarak's supporters have released conflicting details about his health, including that he suffered a stroke, a heart attack and at times went into a coma. His critics called these an attempt to gain public sympathy and court leniency.
His wife, Suzanne, has been living in Cairo and keeping a low-profile, occasionally visiting Mubarak and their two sons in prison.
Outside the prison where Mubarak was held, a few dozen of his supporters gathered to celebrate his release.
"I am here to sincerely wish and congratulate our president, Hosni Mubarak, because without him we are truly nothing," said Mostafa Mohsein, a supporter who was among a dozen who raised Mubarak's pictures and chanted outside Tora prison.
"From the day that he left us, the country has been completely lost. We can't work or do anything. The country is in a state of decline."
Hosni Mubarak timeline
Key events in the rule, downfall and criminal trial of the former Egyptian president:
May 4, 1928 • Mubarak is born in Kafr El-Meselha in the Nile Delta province of Monofiya.
March 13, 1950 • Mubarak graduates from air academy as a pilot and an officer.
April 1975 • Mubarak becomes vice president of Egypt, serving under President Anwar Sadat.
Oct. 14, 1981 • Mubarak takes office after militants assassinate Sadat during a military parade. Mubarak, Sadat's vice president, escaped with a minor hand injury. His security forces are empowered by new emergency laws giving police broad powers of arrest and go after Islamists. He also promises Egypt will stick to its 1979 peace treaty with Israel.
1992 • Militants launch an uprising aimed at overthrowing Mubarak's government and setting up an Islamic state. Gunmen attack police, assassinate politicians and target foreign tourists, a key source of revenue.
June 1995 • Militants attempt to assassinate Mubarak as he visits Ethiopia.
1997 • Mubarak crushes the militant movement through the arrests of thousands as police are accused of torture.
2008 • Riots erupt over soaring bread prices amid grain shortages. Mubarak responds by firing up military ovens to help quell discontent.
2005 • Mubarak allows the first ever multi-candidate presidential election, which he won easily over 10 other candidates amid charges of voter fraud and intimidation.
2010 • Parliamentary elections are widely deplored as rigged. The Muslim Brotherhood, which had dozens of its members in parliament as independents, responds by withdrawing its candidates from a second round of voting.
Jan. 25, 2011 • Thousands of anti-government protesters clash with police in Cairo during a Tunisia-inspired demonstration to demand the president's ouster. The day marked the start of Arab Spring in Egypt.
Feb. 11 • After 18 days of massive protests against his rule, Mubarak is forced to resign. A council of military generals takes over Egypt's government. Mubarak is airlifted out of Cairo and stays in his private villa in the Red Sea town of Sharm el-Sheikh. He is later questioned for the first time by prosecutors.
April 13 • Authorities detain Mubarak for investigation of corruption, abuse of power and killings of hundreds of protesters. He later is ordered to stand trial on charges of corruption and conspiracy in the deadly shooting of nearly 900 protesters.
Aug. 3 • Mubarak's trial opens in Cairo. From a gurney in the defendant's cage, Mubarak denies all charges against him. Millions across the Middle East watch, transfixed by the sight of the former strongman behind prison cage bars. He becomes the first and only Arab leader to face trial by his own people.
June 2, 2012 • Mubarak, now 84, is found guilty of failing to stop the killings and sentenced to life in prison. He is ferried by helicopter to Tora prison in Cairo. He does not spend time in a prison cell and is kept in the prison hospital, which was upgraded to accommodate his health conditions.
January 2013 • Investigators interrogate Mubarak over gifts worth hundreds of thousands of dollars he allegedly received from the country's flagship state-owned newspaper as a show of loyalty while he was in power.
Jan. 13 • Appeals court overturns Mubarak's life sentence in protester killings as the presiding judge says the prosecution's case lacked concrete evidence and failed to prove the protesters were killed by the police.
Jan. 16 • Mubarak and his family agree to pay back $3 million for gifts they received from the state newspaper Al-Ahram.
April • A new investigation begins into accusations Mubarak and his family embezzled state funds designated for the maintenance and upkeep of presidential palaces.
April 13 • Mubarak's retrial for alleged complicity in the killing of protesters begins. The judge recuses himself and does not specify the reasons behind his decision. A new judge takes over and the trial resumes a month later.
Aug. 19 • A criminal court orders Mubarak's release pending trial in the case regarding the misuse of funds for presidential palaces. The case involves his two sons who were ordered kept in custody. He has already previously been ordered released pending his retrial in the killings of protesters. A petition by his lawyer requesting his release in a third case for gifts from the state newspaper is under review.
Aug. 21 • A court orders Mubarak's release pending the trial of gifts from the newspaper.
Aug. 22 •Mubarak, wearing a white shirt and loafers while flashing a smile, leaves prison for a military hospital in a Cairo suburb where he is to be held under house arrest.