Egypt court acquits former president's sons of corruption
In this April 25, 2016 file photo, ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak waves to his supporters from his room at the Maadi Military Hospital, where he was hospitalized, in Cairo, Egypt. (AP Photo/Amr Nabil, File)
CAIRO -- An Egyptian court on Saturday acquitted the two sons of ousted President Hosni Mubarak on charges of stock market manipulation, the latest in a series of trials of Mubarak's family since the 2011 uprising that toppled the longtime autocrat after nearly three decades in power.
The trial centred on the purchase by Mubarak's sons -- wealthy businessman Alaa and Mubarak's one-time heir apparent Gamal -- of a large number of shares in a local Egyptian bank. They allegedly knew the bank was to become the target of a takeover by an Gulf Arab investor, a move that was virtually certain to drive up share prices dramatically.
The Cairo Criminal Court also acquitted six others on the same charges, while a seventh defendant has died. Saturday's verdict can be appealed before a higher court.
One of the acquitted men is investment banker Hassan Heikal, son of Mohamed Hassanein Heikal, a confidant of Egypt's late nationalist leader Gamal Abdel-Nasser and the author of a series of books giving insider accounts of Egypt's wars and peacemaking with Israel. Heikal, the father, died in 2016.
The trial was one of series of court proceedings against Mubarak and his family in recent years. The three were first detained in April 2011, two months after the popular uprising forced Mubarak to step down as part of the so-called Arab Spring. Following a lengthy trial, Mubarak was acquitted of killing protesters during the 18-day uprising against his autocratic rule.
The two sons and their father were sentenced to three years in prison following their conviction of embezzling funds set aside for the restoration and maintenance of presidential palaces, using the money to upgrade their private residences. The sons were released in 2015 for time served, while Mubarak walked free in 2017. The trio paid back to the state the money they embezzled.
The sons were briefly detained in Sep. 2018 pending their trial on charges of stock market manipulation. But they were released a bail of 100,000 pounds ($5,600) each after an appeals court accepted a motion moved by their defence lawyers to remove the judge who ordered their detention.
Preventing Gamal from succeeding his father was among the chief motives for the 2011 uprising and the military's subsequent support for the revolt. The years that followed saw most of the key figures of Mubarak's regime go on trial on corruption or power abuse charges, but almost all of them have since been acquitted or walked free after repaying part or all the funds they had illegally amassed.
But while most Mubarak regime luminaries have since lived quietly on the sidelines, second-string Mubarak loyalists have found their way back to public life under the rule of general-turned-president Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, particularly in parliament, a mostly rubber-stamp chamber packed with government supporters and media figures.
El-Sissi, as defence minister, led the military's 2013 ouster of Egypt's first freely elected president, Mohammed Morsi, following massive protests against his one-year rule, which proved divisive. El-Sissi has since overseen a massive crackdown on thousands of Morsi's supporters, jailing them along with secular activists who organized the 2011 uprising.