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Bitter Spring

Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak released from prison after serving only six years of life sentence

Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak released from prison after serving only six years of life sentence

Former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak was released from prison Friday, just six years after being sentenced to life for his complicity in killing protesters at the height of the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011. Mubarak’s release is a bitter reminder of Egypt’s failed revolution, and the summation of Egyptian authorities’ failure to hold the dictator accountable on vast charges ranging from human rights violations to corruption and cronyism.

Mubarak, 88, was released at 8:30 a.m. Friday from Maadi Military hospital in southern Cairo, where he had been detained.

“He is now in his home in Heliopolis,” Mubarak’s lawyer, Farid El Deeb, confirmed to Reuters.

The former strongman was first detained in April 2011, ending his notoriously corrupt 30-year rule. The following year he was sentenced to life after a court convicted him of conspiring to kill 239 protesters at the hands of security forces during the uprising. But Mubarak was later cleared of those charges in Egypt’s lower court in 2014. 

Prosecutors soon appealed and the dictator’s case was again heard by the country’s high court. On March 2, just six years after his sentence began, Mubarak was cleared by Egypt’s highest appeals court of charges related to his role in the protesters’ killings. 

Current President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, who served as Mubarak’s military intelligence chief, was at first reluctant to release the former dictator, fearing his release would provoke an angry backlash against Sisi’s own harsh rule.

Egypt has slowly slipped back into a dictator’s grip after experiencing a glimmer of hope and democracy in the immediate aftermath of the Arab Spring. In 2013, Sisi led a military coup to overthrow Mohamed Morsi, the democratically elected, if controversial, leader who replaced Mubarak. He has remained in power since. 

The news of Mubarak’s release has been met with resignation rather than outrage by some of those who were directly affected by the Arab Spring’s uprisings. “I’m neither sad nor disappointed,” Tarek el-Khatib, whose brother, Mustafa, was killed in the struggle to topple Mubarak, told the Guardian. “I’d have been surprised had things happened otherwise. Politically, everything flew in this direction and paved the way for the normality of this moment.”

Members of the Muslim Brotherhood haven’t enjoyed the same fate as Mubarak, however. Hundreds of its members have been killed by Sisi’s security forces and thousands more are still languishing in jail.

Cover: (REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

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