Egypt’s deposed autocrat Mubarak turns 87, waves to fans
CAIRO (AP) — Egypt’s deposed longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak celebrated his 87th birthday Monday by waving to some 100 supporters gathered outside of the military hospital where he is being held in Cairo.
The crowd held up photos of Mubarak, played music and praised him, days before an expected May 9 verdict in his retrial on corruption charges.
An appeals court overturned the last remaining conviction against Mubarak in January, leaving no other legal reason for detaining the ailing former leader.
The corruption case concerns charges that Mubarak and his two sons embezzled millions of dollars of state money. The funds were meant to pay for renovating and maintaining presidential palaces but instead allegedly were spent on upgrading the family’s private homes.
Another court cleared Mubarak in November of the biggest case against him — responsibility for the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising against him. Meanwhile, hundreds of the young activists from that time are either languishing in prison on charges of breaking a protest law or have left the country.
The rise of President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has vowed stability after four years of turmoil and taken a tough line against dissent, has encouraged Mubarak supporters and upended the depiction of the revolution in the media, where activists now are most often cast as troublemakers or foreign agents. Mubarak’s successor, Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, himself was overthrown by the military in 2013 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison last month for using force against protesters.
Meanwhile, images of Mubarak’s son and onetime heir apparent, Gamal, making public appearances have circulated on social media, first at a funeral last month and then last weekend with his family at the Giza pyramids.
Many Egyptians view Gamal and his brother, wealthy businessman Alaa, as key pillars of an autocratic and corrupt administration that struck an alliance with the mega-wealthy at the expense of the poor. Although father and son denied succession plans, that perception, along with corruption, police brutality and poverty, fueled the 2011 revolt.