The Egyptian Court of Cassation issued a ruling March 2 acquitting ousted President Hosni Mubarak of the killing of protesters during the outbreak of the January 25 Revolution in 2011. On March 13, an Egyptian prosecutor issued a decision to release Mubarak for the first time since his ousting six years ago. This raised speculation about whether Mubarak, 88, intends to return to the political scene and how the regime of current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi will deal with him.
Mubarak stepped down six years ago, 11 days after the outbreak of the revolution; he was subsequently brought to trial.” He received a prison sentence of 25 years in June 2012, but his defense team appealed the ruling and ultimately got him acquitted in March.
During those years, Mubarak was tried on power corruption charges, and he received a sentence of 3½ years, which he has completed. Meanwhile, investigations are still underway into his charges over illicit gains.
Mubarak was arrested in April 2011. He was admitted to the Tora Prison Hospital and then moved to the Maadi Military Hospital in southern Cairo due to his deteriorating health at the time. According to Yousri Abdel Razek, a volunteer lawyer with Mubarak’s defense team, he remains at the military hospital.
On March 14, Al-Shorouk newspaper reported that the Egyptian prosecution sent an official letter to the Ministry of Interior about Mubarak’s release decision. Several Egyptian media outlets claimed that Mubarak will move to live in a villa near the Al-Ittihadiya Palace, which is the residential palace of the president, given the heavy security presence on the roads leading to and from it.
Abdel Razek told Al-Monitor that the prosecutor’s decision legally settled whether or not Mubarak will be allowed to leave the Maadi Military Hospital, but it will be up to the security authorities to decide the date of his move to the villa and to take the necessary security measures.
Journalist Abdullah al-Sinawi said that Mubarak’s release is legally right, but that he is not allowed to return to the political scene given the charges of misappropriating presidential palace funds.
Asked about the reaction of the Egyptian people, Sinawi told Al-Monitor that Mubarak is a sick man who is almost 90, and he will live in his house. Egyptians do not want to take revenge on Mubarak; rather, they want to get rid of his regime and its policies. Sinawi said the people do not want the same Mubarak policies to be applied now, and that the current regime is facing a real challenge to boycott the policies of the past.
Mustafa Feki, Mubarak's secretary for media affairs between 1985 and 1992, said in a TV interview in early March that the return of the Mubarak family to the political scene would be like “playing with fire." He added that the former Egyptian president will still have influence on the public opinion because he governed for 30 years.
According to the director of the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, Gamal Eid, Mubarak is now like all his men out of prison. He spent his years in prison traveling between the Tora Prison Hospital and the Maadi Military Hospital under the pretext of receiving “treatment.”
Eid told Al-Monitor that the current regime is an extension of the regime that was in place prior to the January 25 Revolution and will therefore not take any action against Mubarak. He pointed out that his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, have been living in freedom since their release in January 2015.
Also, he said that the current regime hired advisers and ministers that were Mubarak's men, whom the revolution partly targeted. “The current regime's policies are the same policies of Mubarak's rule, which lasted 30 years,” he added.
Said Sadek, a professor of political sociology at the American University in Cairo, said Mubarak’s release would not affect the political landscape and the current regime, telling Al-Monitor that the verdict on the presidential palaces case banned Mubarak and his two sons from engaging in public work and restoring their political rights to run in elections or to join a political party for a period of six years.
Sadek believes that the Egyptian revolution in 2011 served to put an end to the Mubarak era and sparked “outrage” among the people against his regime. Also, his loyalists got involved in the current regime out of fear for their interests, which were affected following the revolution.
Sadek said, “The political elites of the Mubarak regime faded similarly to the January revolution figures, such as Wael Ghonim, the April 6 [Youth] Movement and the Muslim Brotherhood.”
He added that reports about the return of Mubarak and his two sons to the political scene and their running for the elections are unreliable since the people are enraged and do not tolerate the Mubarak family. In addition, he said the current regime would not allow them to run in any elections and return to the political scene, and that it would block them as it did with businessman Ahmed Ezz, the most prominent figure of the Mubarak regime who was dismissed from the parliamentary race in 2015.
Sadek said that Egyptians are currently too busy trying to overcome the severe economic crisis plaguing the country to even think of the issue of Mubarak's release. According to him, Egyptians were convinced Mubarak would ultimately be acquitted.
Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science at Cairo University, said that Mubarak’s acquittal proved that his trial was not serious and that the regime that ran Egypt after the January 25 Revolution sought to rescue the Mubarak regime and his policies.
Nafaa told Al-Monitor that Mubarak’s men hijacked the revolution of June 30, 2013, which produced the current regime, just like the Muslim Brotherhood hijacked the January revolution. He said that following the acquittal of Mubarak, the Egyptian people now know for a fact that the revolution has been hijacked
Nafaa confirmed that the current regime will allow the release of Mubarak and will let him live the remainder of his life and enjoy the money he obtained from the blood of the people, ruling out the return of Mubarak or his two sons to the political scene.