News / Africa

    Egypt's Ex-President Mubarak, Sons to Face Trial

    An Egyptian displays books showing cartoons on the covers of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2011
    An Egyptian displays books showing cartoons on the covers of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo, Egypt, May 23, 2011
    Elizabeth Arrott

    Egypt's former President Hosni Mubarak is to face trial for his alleged role in the deaths of protesters during the uprising that drove him from power. The ex-leader and his two sons are also charged with crimes stemming back decades.

    The charges against Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa include abuse of power and wasting public funds, as well as the killing of pro-democracy demonstrators earlier this year.

    The prosecutor general's referral of the Mubaraks to criminal court follows widespread calls for members of the former government to face justice.  Human rights activists believe at least 800 people were killed during the protests, which ended nearly 30 years of Mubarak's rule.

    The move comes three days before renewed protests, which pro-democracy activists are calling "A Second Revolution."

    Abdalla al Ashaal is a political science professor at the American University in Cairo.

    "I think this should be a welcome decision on the face of it, but it seems to me that the timing is trying to precede the demonstrations which are expected to be taking place in Tahrir Square on Friday."

    Some in the protest movement have said they are worried that justice will not be served, and are frustrated by what they see as the continued influence of members of the old government in current affairs.

    Prosecutors have been interrogating the former president at a hospital in Sharm el Sheikh, and his sons while in custody in a Cairo prison.

    Gamal Mubarak held no formal government position, but had a key post in the former ruling National Democratic Party and was seen as being groomed to succeed his father. His brother Alaa was a prominent businessman, also without an official post.

    Professor Ashaal says that while the two men and other members of Mubarak's inner circle profited from his rule - and in doing so earned the disdain of many - the motive for putting the three Mubaraks on trial together is not immediately clear.

    "This is one of the signs of the incredibility of the decision because, of course, the package of Mubarak is totally different from the one that should be attributed to his sons."

    He speculates it could be an administrative mistake, or a move to forestall Friday's protests.

    The former president's wife, Suzanne Mubarak, has also been questioned about alleged illegal gains. Last week, she promised to turn over several million dollars worth of property and other assets.

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