Mubarak to be put under house arrest
CAIRO — Egypt’s deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak is expected to be freed from prison and placed under house arrest today after being ordered released the previous day, following more than two years in detention.
The development is a new twist in the saga of the long-time president, toppled in Egypt’s popular uprising in 2011, and could potentially stoke tensions in the deeply divided nation.
It could also amplify the anger against the military-backed government and Islamist allegations that last month’s military coup against Mubarak’s successor, Mohammed Morsi, was a step toward restoring the old regime.
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi ordered Mubarak be put under house arrest as part of the emergency measures imposed this month after Morsi’s removal from office.
The decision appeared designed to ease some of the criticism over Mubarak being freed from prison and ensure that he appears in court next week for a separate trial.
El-Beblawi’s announcement came hours after a court ordered Mubarak released for the first time since he was first detained in April 2011.
Prison officials said he may be released as early as today but it was unclear where he will be held under house arrest, whether in one of his residences or in a hospital, considering his frail health.
Since his ouster, Mubarak’s supporters have released conflicting details about his health, including that the 85-year-old suffered a stroke, a heart attack and at times went into a coma.
His critics called these an attempt to gain public sympathy and court leniency.
His wife, Suzanne, has been living in Cairo and keeping a low profile, occasionally visiting Mubarak and their two sons in prison.
But security officials said Mubarak was more likely to be moved to a military hospital because of his ailing health.
The order for Mubarak’s release followed an appeal by his lawyers in one of his corruption cases.
He is currently also standing retrial on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising, which could put him back behind bars, and faces investigation into at least two other corruption cases as well.
The prospect of Mubarak being freed, even if only temporarily, would feed into the larger crisis bedeviling Egypt: the violent fallout from the July 3 coup that unseated Morsi, an Islamist who became Egypt’s first freely elected president following Mubarak’s ouster.