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Middle East
Prosecutors Order Mubarak and Sons Held
Published: April 13, 2011
(Page 2 of 2)
Perhaps aware that prosecutors were closing in on him, Mr. Mubarak late last week released his first public statement since leaving office, an audiotape in which he imperiously denied self-enrichment and defended his name.
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Some Egyptians say that Mr. Mubarak, their head of state for a generation, should be treated with respect, while others say they fear that too much noisy protest calling for his punishment could provoke a military backlash. But public pressure for his prosecution reached a peak last Friday when tens of thousands of people rallied in Tahrir Square to call for public trials of Mr. Mubarak and his associates, including members of the military council that now rules the country.
A handful of military officers joined that protest, denouncing Field Marshal Tantawi as a corrupt vestige of the old guard. A few hours after midnight, on Saturday morning, military police officers and security forces moved in to clear out the square, resulting in the clashes that killed at least two and wounded dozens.
A determined core of protesters erected a barricade of barbed wire and remained in the square until Tuesday afternoon. Local news reports said men in civilian clothes armed with clubs — a sight long associated with extralegal punishment and intimidation by the Mubarak government — battled protesters and removed their barricades. The news reports said the military police detained suspected protesters as they fled the square.
A few weeks ago, the Egyptian military also sent a letter to Egyptian news organizations, instructing them of “the necessity to refrain from publishing any items — stories, news, announcements, complaints, advertisements, pictures — pertaining to the armed forces or to commanders of the armed forces” without the prior approval of the military.
The letter was first reported by Human Rights Watch and the Committee to Protect Journalists​, and both groups also noted that on Sunday the blogger Maikel Nabil Sanad was sentenced to three years in prison for “insulting the military,” continuing a pattern of censorship set under Mr. Mubarak.
Though Mr. Mubarak has traveled to Germany for medical treatment in the past, little is known about the state of his health, a taboo topic during his nearly 30 years as the leader of Egypt. As recently as 2008, a prominent newspaper editor, Ibrahim Eissa, was sentenced to six months in prison for publishing articles on the subject. The sentence was later reduced and Mr. Eissa was pardoned. Rumors have circulated that Mr. Mubarak has had pancreatic and colon cancer.
With the news that his hospitalization had interrupted his questioning or prevented his imprisonment, some said they feared that the military was staging “an elaborate ruse to get him out of the country for treatment,” as Hani Shakrallah, editor of Al Ahram’s Web site, said.
Or perhaps it was the aging autocrat’s pride, Mr. Shakrallah suggested. “It is possible they brought him in for the questioning, and the man got so upset that he fell ill.”
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Mona El-Naggar contributed reporting.
A version of this article appeared in print on April 14, 2011, on page A9 of the New York edition.
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