A judge sentenced former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to life in prison yesterday after convicting him of involvement in the murder of protesters during the uprising that ousted him last year.
Also given a life term for the killings was the 84-year-old former strongman’s interior minister Habib al-Adly, while six former police commanders were acquitted.
Corruption charges against Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal, were dropped because of the expiry of a statute of limitations, as the former president was acquitted in one of the graft cases.
Scuffles erupted soon after the verdicts were delivered and chants of: “Void, void,” and: “The people want the judiciary purged,” could be heard.
Furious lawyers said they feared Mubarak would be found innocent on appeal.
Mubarak, who wore dark sunglasses and a beige track-suit, had his arms folded and showed no emotion inside his caged dock as Chief Judge Ahmed Refaat read out the verdict.
His two sons, Alaa and Gamal, looking tired with dark circles under their eyes, appeared close to tears on hearing the verdict.
However, when Mubarak’s helicopter landed at Tora prison in Cairo after he was sentenced, he wept and refused to leave the aircraft, a security official said.
“He was crying and would not get out of the helicopter. Security officials spent some time convincing him to get out,” the official said.
Outside the courtroom, clashes broke out following the sentencing, forcing police to use stun grenades to control the crowds.
Mubarak, the only autocrat toppled in the Arab Spring to be tried in person, Adly and six others were facing charges over their involvement in ordering the deaths of some of the estimated 850 people killed.
The former strongman, Alaa and Gamal and business associate Hussein Salem, who fled to Spain, were also on trial over an alleged bribe.
The former president was also accused of selling natural gas to Israel at lower than market prices.
A security official said 5,000 policemen and 2,000 soldiers were deployed to secure the court, at the Police Academy on Cairo’s outskirts, to which the ailing Mubarak was helicoptered in from a military hospital
During the trial, Mubarak was wheeled into the lecture hall that serves as a courtroom on a stretcher. He reportedly suffers from a heart condition, but the health ministry has denied his lawyer’s claim that he has cancer.
Along with Adly, Mubarak’s co-defendants included six former police commanders.
They all denied that they ordered police to shoot protesters or use deadly force during the uprising, in which demonstrators torched police stations across the country.