An image grab taken from Egyptian state TV shows ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak (C) sitting behind bars with his two sons Gamal (L) and Alaa during a hearing in their retrial at the police academy in Cairo on July 6, 2013
An image grab taken from Egyptian state TV shows ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak (C) sitting behind bars with his two sons Gamal (L) and Alaa during a hearing in their retrial at the police academy in Cairo on July 6, 2013 © - - Egyptian TV/AFP/File
An image grab taken from Egyptian state TV shows ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak (C) sitting behind bars with his two sons Gamal (L) and Alaa during a hearing in their retrial at the police academy in Cairo on July 6, 2013
AFP
Last updated: January 22, 2015

Egypt court frees Mubarak sons pending corruption retrial

An Egyptian court on Thursday ordered the release of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's two sons pending their retrial on corruption charges, a judicial official said.

Their lawyer Farid al-Deeb told AFP Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were free to leave prison after the court order because they had served the maximum pretrial detention period.

A police official said the Cairo prison holding them had received notice of the release order.

Mubarak, unseated in Egypt's 2011 uprising, was convicted by a lower court on corruption charges with his two sons last year, with Alaa and Gamal receiving four-year sentences.

Their charges included embezzling at least $16 million earmarked for the maintenance of presidential palaces.

The retrial was ordered this month and Deeb said at the time that the elder Mubarak, who is in a military hospital, would also be a free man.

But state media reported there had been no orders yet for his release and there have been no signs of the 86-year-old leaving the hospital.

The release of the Mubaraks presents a dilemma for President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former army chief whom opponents accuse of reviving Mubarak-era practices.

Sisi took power after ousting Egypt's first post-revolution leader -- Islamist president Mohamed Morsi -- in 2013 and won an election with massive support last year.

But he has faced accusations of being even more authoritarian than Mubarak, unleashing a crackdown on Morsi supporters that has killed at least 1,400 people.

The possible release of the Mubaraks so close to the January 25 anniversary of the 2011 revolt might especially antagonise government critics.

- Police disperse protest -

After the court's announcement on Thursday, several dozen Islamists tried to hold a protest in central Cairo but police dispersed them, an interior ministry official told AFP.

Morsi, a leader of the Islamist opposition under Mubarak, is himself now on trial over violence during the 2011 uprising in which protesters torched police stations across the country.

Critics say such charges -- pinning the blame of police violence during the revolt on Islamists -- are a revision of history that tars the uprising as a plot by Islamists and foreign powers against Egypt.

Sisi himself has dismissed such allegations and -- wary of appearing as a Mubarak-era loyalist -- has said he would decree legislation banning "insults" to the uprising as well as the 2013 protests that prompted the army to remove Morsi.

Mubarak ruled for 30 years with a seemingly iron grip.

The turbulent years since his departure have caused many Egyptians to remember his relatively stable rule with nostalgia, and to support Sisi as a self-styled tough leader who would restore stability.

Islamist militants have killed scores of policemen and soldiers since Morsi's ouster, most of them in an insurgency in the Sinai Peninsula led by jihadists loyal to the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

In November, a court also dropped murder charges against Mubarak over the deaths of some of the roughly 800 protesters killed during the 2001 uprising.

Along with Mubarak, seven security commanders were acquitted of involvement in those deaths.

Alaa and Gamal still face a separate trial for stock market manipulation.

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