Mubarak Is Released

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An Egyptian man throws the logo of the Freedom and Justice party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, into the fire on 23 August 2013 in Mansura. (Photo: AFP - Sayed Baz)

By: Mohammad Khawly

Published Friday, August 23, 2013

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who was toppled by an uprising against 30 years of injustice, poverty, and marginalization, has been released from prison. The law set him free, claiming to be independent. However, the same law neglects some cases and opens others according to the whims of the ruler.

Cairo – Less than three years into the January 25 revolution, when the Egyptians rose up against the injustice of the Mubarak clan, deposed president Hosni Mubarak was set free Thursday, August 23. He was transported by military helicopter from his cell in Tora prison and taken to the military hospital in Maadi, where he is under house arrest.

Mubarak was released following the end of the detention period in the latest case against him, known as the al-Ahram newspaper gifts case. The prison administration had received a letter from the prosecutor asking for Mubarak's release, since he was not suspected in any other case.

The decision was met with a wave of indignation by political forces and youth groups. In an attempt to contain the situation, Prime Minister Hazem al-Beblawi, in his capacity as deputy military ruler of the country, issued a decision to put the deposed president under house arrest, as part of the emergency measures imposed for one month.

Thursday morning, security forces stepped up their presence in front of the prison and outside the military hospital in Maadi and secured Mubarak’s future house arrest spot.

Thousands of Mubarak supporters carrying Egyptian flags and giving out sweets gathered outside Tora, in the south of Cairo, where Mubarak spent 28 months. The heavily guarded prison holds several figures from both the Mubarak regime and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership.

The supporters of the deposed president also carried pictures of Defense Minister General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Gamal Abdel Nasser, and Anwar Sadat, next to a large portrait of Mubarak, whose name they kept chanting as they danced and the women ululated.

Around 2 pm, a helicopter flew from inside Tora prison, carrying Mubarak. "There he is. There he is. Our president and love, there he is," they chanted as they looked up to the sky.

Mubarak's supporters believe that the January 25 events were a mere outburst. He had been treated unfairly in the media, but he was a patriotic man who worked hard for his country.

"What he did cannot be compared to what the Muslim Brotherhood are doing to Egypt now," one of the supporters claimed. He left his work in the morning and came here to celebrate the release of his leader. However, he insisted that he does not belong to Mubarak's National Democratic Party (NDP). "I came here because I know the injustice faced by this hero," he said.

Mubarak's supporters are treating the release as an innocence ruling. But this is denied by Judge Saber Ghallab, head of the Suez criminal courts, who maintains that the release was not an acquittal, which should be through a court ruling after a full trial. Release from custody is a legal measure. "It does not prevent the court from issuing an enforceable decision of guilt, even if the defendant was free throughout the trial," he explained.

Mubarak is still on trial for killing protesters during the January 25 revolution, along with former interior minister Habib al-Adli and six of his former top aides. He also faces charges, along with his two sons Gamal and Alaa, in the “presidential palaces” case, whose trial started two days ago.

Several revolutionary forces and youth movements called for a demonstration today outside the public prosecutor's office in protest of the decision to release Mubarak. However, some pulled out from the demonstration following the house arrest decision.

Meanwhile, US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said it was an “internal Egyptian legal matter.”

"Our position on Mr Morsi remains the same. We believe there should be a process for his release," Psaki said.

Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman will hold meetings in Cairo with parties and officials from the transitional administration to push for dialogue and reconciliation.

According to the head of the Andalus Institute for Tolerance and Anti-Violence Studies Ahmed Samih, Feltman told representatives of 11 human rights organizations he was meeting that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon received phone calls from certain heads of state asking him to describe the events of July 3 as a military coup. Other heads of state, however, called him asking not to use the word coup.

"I asked Feltman about the Security Council and the role of the UN," Samih said. Feltman's answer was that "it was the member states that requested a [Security Council] meeting on Egypt."

Other sources indicated that Feltman personally rejected some countries' requests for quick presidential and parliamentary elections in Egypt. "I personally believe that calling for early elections is not a good idea. This can only be achieved after six months at least," Feltman said, speaking to activists outside the meeting.

Meanwhile, presidential media spokesperson Mohammed al-Musulmani will be meeting more political actors to survey their opinions on solving the crisis and find ways for national reconciliation. He was given this task by interim President Adly Mansour. But it seems that Musulmani will not be meeting any Muslim Brotherhood leaders, since most of them are on the run, in custody, or dead.

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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