5:13 pm - Thursday April 18, 5596

Egypt's Hosni Mubarak jailed for embezzlement

BBC News: A court in Egypt has sentenced former President Hosni Mubarak to three years in prison after finding him guilty of embezzling public funds.

His two sons, Alaa and Gamal, were also convicted and given four-year terms.The three were also fined $3m (£1.8m) and ordered to repay the $17.6m they were accused of stealing.Mubarak, 86, is also on trial for abuse of power and conspiring in the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that forced him to resign.

He was found guilty of the charge relating to the protesters in 2012 along with former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, and sentenced to life in prison.But in January 2013 the Court of Cassation upheld an appeal by the two men against their convictions on technical grounds and ordered a retrial.

In August, a court ordered Mubarak’s release from prison and transfer to a military hospital in Cairo, where he is being held under house arrest.

Gamal, the president’s one-time heir apparent, and Alaa, a wealthy businessman, are also being retried on separate corruption charges.

Analysis: Orla Guerin, BBC News, Cairo

A lone supporter of Hosni Mubarak staged a one-woman protest outside the Cairo police academy from early morning, clutching a poster of the former president.

In court, a small number of journalists were joined by a handful of Mubarak loyalists. The aged former leader was seated in a wheelchair, his hair still improbably black. He was flanked by his sons – the embezzlement was a family affair. Mubarak appeared alert as the brief session began, but betrayed no emotion.

After the verdict a few supporters showed their anger outside, some shouting at police. One man claimed, through tears, that Hosni Mubarak had been convicted now – just before the presidential election – for political reasons.

But the protesters numbered around half a dozen or so – a striking indication of how little public support or public attention Hosni Mubarak commands these days.

Most Egyptians appear to have lost interest in the man who ruled for three decades, and who once seemed immovable.

‘Without regard’

In February, the Mubaraks were accused of diverting $17.6m meant for maintenance of presidential palaces to renovate their own private residences in Cairo and on the Red Sea coast, as well as a family farm.

They denied the charge and asserted at the trial that the prosecution’s case was “completely unsubstantiated because it never happened”.

But on Wednesday, Judge Osama Shaheen told the court: “He should have treated people close and far from him equally.

“Instead of abiding by the constitution and laws, he gave himself and his sons the freedom to take from public funds whatever they wanted to without oversight and without regard.”

Mubarak sat in the caged dock in a wheelchair, wearing a grey suit. His sons stood beside him in white prison uniforms.

One of their lawyers, Mostafa Ali As, said they would appeal.

Four other defendants in the case were acquitted.

It was not immediately clear whether the 23 months that Mubarak and his sons have spent in custody would count towards their sentences.

The state-run newspaper, al-Ahram, reported that the court had ordered that Mubarak be transferred to Torah prison, where his sons are being held. His health may mean that he will be sent to the prison’s hospital.

The conviction comes just a few days before a presidential election that former military chief Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who served as military intelligence chief under Mubarak, is widely expected to win.

The now-retired field marshal overthrew Mubarak’s democratically elected successor, Mohammed Morsi, in July following mass opposition protests.

Mr Morsi was in turn put on trial on a variety of charges, including incitement to murder, espionage and fraud.

In a separate development on Wednesday, a court in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura sentenced 155 supporters of Mr Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood to long prison sentences in the latest mass trial against the Islamist group.

More than 50 of the defendants were jailed for life after being convicted of instigating violence and chaos in August, after the interim authorities launched a crackdown that left almost 1,000 people dead. (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-27499325#TWEET1134962


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