Cairo: Deposed former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak was sentenced yesterday to three years in prison for embezzling millions in public funds for lavish renovations to family properties.
The verdict may please some Egyptians who lived through three decades of autocracy under Mubarak before a 2011 uprising toppled him. But business executives still loyal to him remain influential and rights groups say the abusive security practices of his era remain alive and well today with another former military man set to win a presidential election next week.
Mubarak’s two sons were sentenced to four years in jail on the same charges of stealing state funds that had been earmarked for the renovation of presidential palaces but were instead diverted to sprucing up family residences. The Cairo court also fined Mubarak and his sons 21.197m Egyptian pounds ($2.98m) and ordered them to repay about 125m Egyptian pounds of funds they were accused of siphoning off.
Mubarak has been under house arrest at a military hospital since August pending retrial in a case of complicity in killings protesters during the 2011 revolt. He is further accused in two other cases of corruption that have yet to reach court.
“He (Mubarak) should have treated people close and far from him equally,” said Judge Osama Shaheen as the 86-year-old fallen leader watched from a cage flanked by sons Gamal and Alaa. “Instead of abiding by the constitution and laws, he gave himself and his sons the freedom to take from public funds whatever they wanted to without oversight and without regard.”
Mubarak spent 23 months in jail from the uprising until August 2013, when he was transferred to house arrest. It was not immediately clear how much of that time served would be applied against Wednesday’s sentence, but judicial sources told Reuters that they did not expect Mubarak to serve the entire three years as punishment for the corruption charges. They said his sons, who have already done three years in jail, will also probably not serve their complete sentences. Four other defendants were acquitted.
Mubarak’s former military intelligence boss, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, is poised to be elected president next week in a vote that could boost the legitimacy of a military-backed government.
Since ex-army chief Sisi toppled elected Islamist president Mohamed Mursi in July in the face of mass unrest over his rule, courts have meted out tough sentences primarily on members of Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood and secular activists.
Yesterday’s Mubarak ruling was for a financial crime, not a criminal one. However, many prominent activists have recently been given harsher sentences for street protests than Mubarak received for embezzling millions while serving as president. Senior members of the Brotherhoodmovement have been sentenced to death.Reuters