Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak sentenced to life in prison

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Former Egypt strongman Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison by a Cairo court Saturday.

Mubarak and his former Interior Minister Habib al Adly should be sentenced to life terms for being accessories “to murder in the killing of more than 240 demonstrators in the last six days of January 2011,” the presiding Egyptian judge Ahmed Refaat said in delivering his sentence, the New York Times reported.

“Judge Ahmed Rifaat said Mr. Mubarak and his former interior minister, Habib al Adli, were guilty on charges of accessory to murder and attempted murder of protesters,” the Wall Street Journal’s Matt Bradley reported from Cairo. “But he acquitted the six senior interior ministry officials whom prosecutors had also accused of killing protesters.”

Scenes of chaos erupted outside the courtroom as the sentence was read.

Mubarak, 84, observed the proceedings from a cage inside the courtroom. He was later reported to have suffered a health crisis after arriving by helicopter at a military prison, Egypt state television reported. He was admitted to the prison hospital after initially refusing to leave the helicopter, reports said.

Analysts said they found the verdict somewhat confusing. Namely: how could the judge find Mubarak and the ex-Interior Minister Adly guilty of being accessories to the murders of the protesters, while acquitting the six Interior Ministry police accused of having actually carried out the killings.

The “judge said that there was no evidence submitted by prosecution that bullets that killed victims came from police,” Heba Morayef, Human Rights Watch’s Egypt analyst wrote on Twitter.

The “Judge listed 8 reasons re lack of evidence 2 convict MOI officials of ordering shooting but failed to explain discrepancy re convicting Adly,” the Interior Minister, Morayef wrote.

There was also concern among Egyptian observers that the verdicts against Mubarak and Adly could be overturned on appeal, the Times’ Cairo correspondent Liam Stack reported on Twitter. In particular, if Mubarak’s former Air Force chief Ahmed Shafiq wins Egypt’s presidential elections.

(Photo: Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak sits inside a cage in a courtroom in Cairo June 2, 2012. An Egyptian judge convicted Mubarak of complicity in the killings of protesters during the uprising that ended his 30-year rule and sentenced him on Saturday to life in prison.   REUTERS/Stringer.)