|Dan Weisman |||Nov 29, 2014 08:00 PM EST|
(Photo : REUTERS/ASMAA WAGUIH) Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak waves to his supporters as he returns to Maadi military hospital in Cairo November 29, 2014.
A Cairo court cleared former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak of all charges of allegedly causing protestor deaths court Saturday, ending all pending charges against the former leader.
After a lengthy trial process, the court dropped all charges against Mubarak that he ordered police to murder hundreds of protesters during the 2011 Tahrir Square uprising.
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Saying, "I never did anything wrong, so I just waited for what the court would present and I was declared innocent," Mubarak lauded the decision from the military hospital near Cairo where he had been under house arrest with a three-year sentence for embezzling public money.
Meanwhile, human rights groups who said more than 800 people died during the three-week revolt that ousted Mubarak from office, criticized the decision as demonstrating that ex-regime figures now were exempt from justice. Legal scholars argued over what would happen next to the former president.
The court also set aside charges against top Mubarak security aides while dismissing the case against the former president, saying prosecutors had filed their indictment too late against Mubarak and his aides.
The court also cleared Mubarak and his two sons of corruption charges, including one in which Mubarak and key aide Hussein Salem, a businessman, were accused of selling gasoline to Israel at prices below market value.
A packed Cairo police academy courtroom burst into cheers when the verdict was announced. Pro-Mubarak crowds celebrated outside the military hospital where Mubarak was held with nationalist songs and cheers.
Egyptian legal analysts didn't reach a consensus of what would happen next. Some said he would go free. Others said he still must serve out the house arrest sentence.
Anticipating possible protests against the verdict, Egyptian military forces eased off Tahrir Square with armored vehicles. Nonetheless, hundreds of anti-Mubarak demonstrators gathered outside the square and chanted slogans.
In a telephone interview with an Egyptian TV station, Mubarak declared his innocence, saying he "never did anything wrong." Supporters blamed the Muslim Brotherhood and the U.S. for selling him out through the 2011 charges.
Human rights lawyers said the court mishandled the case. It involved only six days of police action during the three-week revolt in 2011 that ended Mubarak's 30-year rule. Mubarak and former interior minister Habib al-Adly had been sentenced to death on the murder charges in 2012, but were granted a re-trial.
Mohamed Zaree, an attorney with the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, said the outcome was inevitable because no actual evidence linked Mubarak to the police action. However, "there was never any real intention to try Mubarak," he added.
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