Egypt court overturns Mubarak jail sentence for graft


Cairo (AFP) - An Egyptian appeals court on Tuesday overturned a three-year prison sentence against ousted strongman Hosni Mubarak on corruption charges and ordered a retrial in the sole case still pending against him.

In November, another court had dropped murder charges against the 86-year-old former leader over the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his three decades of autocratic rule.

A lower court had handed down the jail sentence against Mubarak in May last year after convicting him of embezzling money earmarked for the maintenance of presidential palaces.

It had also handed down four-year jail sentences against the toppled leader's sons, Alaa and Gamal.

Four other defendants in the graft case were acquitted last year.

The Court of Cassation did not specify whether Mubarak was a free man following its judgement.

But defence lawyer Farid al-Deeb told AFP that his client ought to go free as he "has already served" three years in detention, including the time he spent in custody awaiting trial.

In 2011, there were mass protests demanding Mubarak's prosecution after he retired to a mansion in the Red Sea resort of Sharm al-Sheikh following the Arab Spring uprising that forced him from power that February.

He was detained two months later and ordered to stand trial.

But when the murder charges against him were dropped in November for the deaths of demonstrators during the uprising it met with hardly any protest.

The court ruled that prosecutors should not have added Mubarak's name to the list of defendants in the murder trial, after originally charging only his security chiefs.

The seven security commanders, including feared former interior minister Habib al-Adly, were all acquitted.

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ousted his Islamist predecessor Mohamed Morsi in July 2013 and launched a deadly crackdown that has left more than 1,400 people dead.

Human rights group say that Sisi has been even more autocratic than Mubarak.

But the former army chief's promise of a strong hand has appealed to those many Egyptians weary of the years of political turmoil and economic decline since the uprising.

Several Mubarak-era officials have made a comeback as have the once reviled police.

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