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Mubarak Convicted In Charges Of Protesters' Deaths



This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. Hosni Mubarak has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in deaths of hundreds of protesters during the revolution that ousted him last year. The former Egyptian president is the first Arab leader to be hauled in for trial by his own people.


SIMON: Lawyers in the courtroom erupted into shouts, blows and shoving after the verdict was announced. But many Egyptians across Cairo said they were satisfied but confused by the verdict. Khaled Fahmy heads the history department at the American University in Cairo. He was outside the court when the verdict was read.

KHALED FAHMY: I think this is a confusing verdict. On the one hand, Mubarak and his minister is given a very heavy sentence. But at the same time, the people who ordered the police to shoot to kill were acquitted. So we have to see how people absorb this very confusing sentence.

SIMON: NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson is in Cairo. Soraya, thanks very much for being with us.


SIMON: And, of course, Mr. Mubarak was on trial with his two sons, his former interior minister, six security officials. What were the other verdicts?

NELSON: Well, it was quite confusing. Mubarak and Habib el-Adly, his former interior minister were convicted and received life sentences. The six security officers who are in the police department were acquitted, even though they gave the orders for shoot to kill. And then in a concurrent case on the corruption charges that Mr. Mubarak and his sons faced, they were acquitted as well as a businessman who was being tried in absentia. So they were acquitted on those charges because of time elapsed.

SIMON: What reaction did you see among the defendants?

NELSON: Well, Mubarak's lip was quivering. He was wearing sunglasses. His sons, who were in white prison uniforms, were trying to stand in front of him and protect him from the camera. But you could see him, and he looked somewhat stoic except for that quivering lip. He obviously was very either angry or nervous. But again, he had sunglasses on, so you couldn't really read beyond that.

The sons, too, looked sort of pale and quiet. There was no breakdown within the defendants' cage, shall we say. Certainly a look of shock in fact on some of the faces of the people who were acquitted.

SIMON: Appeals are planned?

NELSON: Yes, that is what we're hearing. Certainly, Mr. Mubarak and Mr. Adly's lawyers will be filing an appeal. But it doesn't change the fact that they were immediately sent to Tora Prison. Now, a suite of rooms that are more medically upgraded have been prepared for Mr. Mubarak. He's not going to be in a regular cell from what we understand, but he was transferred immediately from the hospital where he had been staying the past few months.

SIMON: And the sons go free now?

NELSON: Well, actually they don't, because this week the prosecutor announced charges against Alaa and Gamal Mubarak with regards to insider trading involving a bank that was sold here in Egypt. So they're being held for trial in that case.

SIMON: And I know time will tell very quickly, but this is occurring just literally in the middle of the election season. Any indication as to how this verdict might affect that?

NELSON: Well, certainly emotions are running very high today. We hear that protesters are moving on Tahrir Square. There are some who wanted to see Mubarak receive the death penalty and el-Adly receive the death penalty.

However, as time has gone on, because of concerns about deteriorating security, the weakening economy, it seems that people have sort of shifted and they want to move ahead. So many that we've talked to seem content with a life sentence. They feel that Mubarak and his former interior minister should hang around and see how Egypt evolves from here, from behind bars, of course.

SIMON: NPR's Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson in Cairo. Thanks so much.

NELSON: You're welcome, Scott.

SIMON: And we've learned that Hosni Mubarak has been transferred to the hospital at the Tora Prison after suffering what the Egyptian state media reported as a health crisis. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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