August 19, 2013

Egypt's Mubarak may be released from prison

By Hamza Hendawi / The Associated Press

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Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak waves to his supporters from behind bars as he attends a hearing in his retrial on appeal in Cairo in this April 13, 2013, photo.


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In Monday's attack, the officials said the policemen were in civilian clothes. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which also left two policemen wounded.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, initially said the policemen were killed when the militants fired rocket-propelled grenades at the two minibuses. Such confusion over details in the immediate aftermath of attacks is common.

The killings on the prison convoy Sunday came as police fired tear gas to free a prison guard from rioting detainees. The detainees, who were rounded up during clashes over the past couple of days in Cairo, had managed to capture a police officer inside the truck, security officials said. The truck was part of a prison truck convoy of some 600 prisoners heading to Abu Zaabal prison in northern Egypt.

Security forces fired tear gas into the truck in efforts to free the badly beaten officer, the officials said, adding that the people killed died from suffocation. Those officials also spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to journalists.

However, the officials' version of event contradicted reports about the incident carried by state media. The official website of state television reported that the deaths took place after security forces clashed with militants near the prison and detainees came under fire while trying to escape. The official MENA state news agency also said the trucks came under attack from gunmen.

State media also said the people killed and the gunmen belonged to the Brotherhood. The officials who spoke to AP said some of the detainees belonged to the Brotherhood, while others didn't. The differences in the accounts could not be immediately reconciled.

On Monday, the government ordered an inquiry into the deaths, which it blamed on armed men allegedly trying to help the 600 Brotherhood detainees escape. It gave no details.

The Brotherhood said in a statement that it blamed the military chief, el-Sissi, and Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim who is in charge of the police, for the attack Sunday. The group also called for an international inquiry into the deaths. Amnesty International demanded a "full, impartial and effective" probe into the killings, the London-based group said in a statement.

The judiciary officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media, said a court on Monday ordered Mubarak's release in a corruption case that alleged he and his two sons embezzled funds for presidential palaces. His sons will remain in custody because they face other cases against them.

Monday's order, along with the fact that Mubarak had previously been ordered released in two other cases against him — the killing of the protesters and a case related to illegal earnings — opened the possibility of freedom for the former president.

Mubarak is also facing trial for alleged acceptance of presents from state newspapers but has already repaid their value. His defense team has submitted a petition for his release in connection with the presents and a ruling is expected later this week.

Along with the state of emergency imposed after Wednesday's crackdown on the pro-Morsi sit-ins in Cairo and ensuing street clashes across the country, the military-backed interim government has also begun taking harsher measures to cripple the Brotherhood.

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