Mubarak gets life in jail for mass murder

Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak

The former Egyptian president was charged with murder and attempted murder in connection with the killing of 225 anti-government demonstrators and wounding of more than 1,800 in January last year. His co-defendant security chiefs were acquitted.

Nearly 900 protesters were killed during the 18-day popular uprising that pushed Mubarak from power in February 2011, ending his 30-year rule.

On the final day of six months of hearings, the 84-year-old ex-president refused to address the court.

Hosni Mubarak was accused of the murders along with seven security chiefs and the corruption charges with his two sons, wealthy businessmen Alaa and Gamal – his one-time heir apparent.

His former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, who was among his co-defenders, blamed “foreigners” for the deaths. Both he and the former president have rejected the charges.

Mubarak also faced corruption charges for accepting a bribe in exchange for Sharm al-Sheikh land grants and for conspiring to sell natural gas to Israel at below international market prices.

The trial began last August, six months after Mubarak’s ouster in a nationwide uprising.

It has often been labeled as political theater, as activists say Mubarak should have been tried for abuses and mismanagement they believe he had committed during his 30 years in power, rather than for events that took place during a few days of the uprising.

It was expected the sentence could have put Mubarak, who spent nearly 30 years as one of the Arab world’s key strongmen, on death row. That is what demonstrators, mostly relatives of those killed in the revolution demanded, shouting outside the court.

A large convoy of military armored personnel carriers arrived at the court compound in the early morning with lines of riot police also taking up positions at the entrance to the venue.

Judgment day comes as thousands of Egyptians rallied on Friday across the country against ongoing military rule and Mubarak’s last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, who is currently running for the presidency.

They protested against him and demand that he be barred from the race for the country’s top job. He will contest the second round runoff against the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi later this month. The protest comes just a day after Egypt’s controversial decades-long state of emergency expired.

Neither candidate is perceived as a champion of the revolution by many who took part in it, with some observers predicting further revolt.