Back to the palace of corruption: Mubarak is freed
Ousted president to return to mansion his wife was accused of illegally acquiring
مبارك خلال محاكمته الأولى - أرشيفية

Public Prosecutor Nabil Sadiq approved a decision to release former President Hosni Mubarak on Monday. Mubarak’s lawyer, Farid al-Deeb, has stated that he expects Mubarak to leave the Maadi Military Hospital and return to his former residence in the upscale neighborhood of Heliopolis – the same mansion he occupied for much of his presidency and to which the state will continue to offer security protection – within the next few days.

The Mubarak family has resided in the mansion since 1979, when Mubarak held the position of vice president. The state-owned villa was covertly sold by the government to Mubarak’s wife Suzanne in 2002, according to an investigation published by Mada Masr in 2014.

To facilitate the sale, a complicated process was designed through which the state treasury sold the public property to the Egyptian General Intelligence Service (EGIS), which then sold it to a front housing company called Valley – also owned by EGIS – which then sold it as private property to Suzanne.  

The 2014 investigation revealed that a representative of the intelligence service volunteered to testify that his agency had sold the palace to Suzanne for “security reasons.” After four days in detention in the Qanater Women’s Prison in May 2011, Suzanne was released and the investigation into her involvement was closed. In order to be exculpated, Suzanne had to sign documents forfeiting LE24 million – which she had failed to account for – to the state treasury, according to a statement by the Justice Ministry. The former first lady also agreed to sell the palace back to the Egyptian government in exchange for her release.

The decision to release Mubarak comes shortly after a final ruling was issued by the Court of Cassation to acquit the ousted president of charges of ordering the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising that brought his 30-year presidency to an end.

Another final court ruling in January 2016 sentenced Mubarak to three years in prison, as part of a trial popularly known as the “presidential palaces case,” in which Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, were accused of squandering LE125 million in state funds to renovate their residential properties.

The verdict in the case is the only sentence for corruption that has been upheld against the Mubaraks, but lawyer Taher Aboul Nasr explains to Mada Masr that the period Mubarak served in pretrial detention on charges of killing protesters was counted toward this verdict, in accordance to Article 483 in the Criminal Procedures Code, which has paved the way for his imminent release.

Mubarak is still involved in an ongoing investigation regarding his fortune, and a suspended case in which the Mubarak family has been accused of illegally receiving “gifts” from the state’s flagship newspaper, Al-Ahram.

Investigations into the sources of Mubarak’s wealth, conducted by the Illicit Gains Authority, have been under way since December 2011, but have not been referred to court. A criminal court has upheld a decision by the authority to freeze the Mubarak family’s assets under investigation in the case.

A source in the Justice Ministry told the privately owned Al-Shorouk newspaper in January that the Illicit Gains Authority referred the case to the ministry in December 2016. According to Deeb, Mubarak was questioned and released without indictment.

Investigations into the Al-Ahram case were suspended in May 2016. The prosecution subsequently appealed the decision, and a criminal court will hold the first appeal hearing on March 23. Deeb has stated, however, that Mubarak will remain a free man regardless of the court’s decision.

Mohamed Hamama 

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