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Whatever Became of Hosni Mubarak?

April 12, 2011

Hosni Mubarak and his sons were taken into custody for questioning April 12. Following the questioning, they were detained in custody for fifteen days. The former president apparently suffered a heart attack under questioning and is being detained in a hospital. So say reports from Al-Jazeera, Al-Masry Al-Youm and Reuters.

The former president had released a statement 10 April on the Al-Arabiyya satellite channel assuring listeners that he had done nothing wrong but was the innocent victim of an unjust campaign of false allegations aimed at harming his reputation, undermining his integrity and tarnishing his military and political history. This was the same day Egyptian prosecutor’s issued a summons for him–and, separately, his two sons–to appear in court for depositions on corruption and killing of protesters, according to Reuters.

The statement follows a series of events that suggest Mubarak is headed for “the cage”–the secure metal enclosure in which accused criminal sit during high court hearings and trials.

The most significant of these events was probably the well-attended April 1 protest in Tahrir Square, calling on Field Marshal Husayn Tantawi to resign from the Supreme Council. Tantawi was Mubarak’s minster of defense and his resignation would have been a sign that the government was going to seriously move to:

  1. purge itself of members of the old regime
  2. investigate former officials, including Mubarak, for corruption, ordering violent attacks on the protesters, and other offenses.
  3. to put the deposed dictator and his cronies on trial.

Instead of resigning, Tantawi announced April 6 that a committee led by Assem al-Gohari had been formed to investigate Mubarak . Nobel laureate Muhammad El-Baradei and other politicians associated with the revolution applauded this, but only as a first step.

According to a Washington Post story April 9, Egypt’s top prosecutor asked the United States to provide assistance in retrieving assets stolen by former Mubarak and members of his family. This followed a statement April 8th from the US embassy in Cairo saying officials were “vigorously pursuing all leads provided by the Egyptian Government with regard to freezing assets of former Egyptian officials” and a report the following day that an American judicial delegation to Egypt told al-Gohari that Washington was keen on cooperating with the Egyptian authorities to return the assets of the former president, his family and his colleagues from the former regime.

And on April 10, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) said that some Arab countries had offered incentive packages to support the Egyptian economy under the condition that Mubarak be brought before court.

Mubarak and his family have been living in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh since he left Cairo. The military said the 82-year-old president, himself a former senior military officer, is banned from leaving the country.

Among other things, according to the documents obtained by the Washington Post, the Mubaraks are accused of

  • having “seized public monies and partnered with businessmen, investors, importers and exporters by force to realize profit without basis other than that they are the sons of the president.”
  • purchasing “one of the debts of Egypt for 35 percent of its value and then collected the full 100 percent value from the Egyptian state budget.”
  • using Gamal’s position on the board of the Egyptian Central Bank to withdraw 75 tons of Egyptian gold held by the US Federal Reserve.

Popular Arab league chief Amr Moussa, a possible candidate for president, told the Spanish newspaper El Pais that people should be careful about condemning Mubarak before he was investigated and prosecuted. “We will see if there is anything against him,” Moussa said. “But for now, he is retired and should be treated like an ex-president, with all due respect.”

But not everyone is so patient. Mubarak has more than a hundred million dollars in Egyptian banks–he did not save that out of his military or presidential salaries, pointed out Chief Editor Abdel-Beri Atwan in an editorial in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds Al-Arabi April 9th. And how, he asks, could he afford to build that palace in Sharm al-Sheikh? Quite a contrast with the Arab Nationalist president Gamel Abdel Nasser who died with an estate of only a few hundred Egyptian pounds and no vast estates to leave his children.

And earlier, on April 3rd Muhamad El-Baradei told Al-Masry Al-Youm that “Egypt will always remain sick as long as Mubarak’s situation remains unclear. He should either leave the country like the Tunisian President Zine El Abidine, or he should stand trial… Also, why are we late in retrieving our money from them? This is the people’s money…”

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