Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was in a coma yesterday, but off life support, and his heart and other vital organs were functioning, according to officials.
Overnight, state media reported that the 84-year-old former president, ousted in last year’s uprising and now serving a life sentence in prison, suffered a stroke and was put on life support. He was transferred to a military hospital from the Cairo prison hospital where he has been kept since his June 2 conviction and sentencing for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the uprising.
His wife, Suzanne, was by his side in the Nile-side hospital in Maadi, a suburb just south of Cairo.
The security officials said a team of 15 doctors, including heart, blood and brain specialists, was supervising the condition of Mubarak, who needed help with his breathing. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
State news agency MENA had earlier said the ousted president had been declared clinically dead after suffering a stroke in prison and being transferred to hospital.
“Hosni Mubarak is clinically dead,” the report said. “Medical sources told MENA his heart had stopped beating and did not respond to defibrillation.”
Mubarak’s health scare comes at a time of heightened tension in Egypt. Both candidates in a fiercely contested presidential runoff held last weekend are claiming victory. At the same time, the ruling military council that took over from Mubarak moved to tighten its grip on power a little more than a week before they were supposed to transfer complete authority to an elected civilian administration.
The ruling generals stripped the next president of many of his powers in a declaration made just as polls closed in the runoff late on Sunday night. With the decree, they gave themselves control over the drafting of a new constitution and declared themselves the legislative power after a court last week dissolved the Islamist-dominated parliament, which was freely elected about six months earlier.
The runoff pitted Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, against conservative Islamist Mohammed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. The contest divided the country and their rival claims of victory could bring more of the turmoil that has rocked the country since Mubarak’s ouster.
Mubarak was convicted of failing to prevent the killing of about 900 protesters during the 18-day uprising that forced him out of office on Feb. 11, last year.
Conflicting details of Mubarak’s condition were filtering out on Tuesday night at a mass demonstration in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
“It’s divine retribution,” teacher Saber Amr said. “God doesn’t forgive those who do wrong to their people. God doesn’t forgive those who kill innocents.”
Nearby, Abdel Mottaleb, a Muslim Brotherhood supporter, offered a more conciliatory tone.
“We are Muslims. We respect the dead, regardless,” he said. “God will judge him.”