Deposed Egyptian doctor Hosni Mubarak will leave jail as early as Thursday after a court ruling that jolted a divided nation already in turmoil seven weeks after the army toppled President Mohamed Morsi, the first democratically elected Egyptian head of state.
Convening on Wednesday at the Cairo jail where Mubarak is held, the court ordered the release of the authoritarian ruler who ruled Egypt for 30 years until he was overthrown during the revolution that swept the Arab world in early 2011, Reuters reported.
Asked when his client would go free, Mubarak's lawyer, Fareed al-Deeb, told Reuters: "Maybe tomorrow".
Mubarak, 85, was sentenced to life in prison last year for failing to prevent the killing of demonstrators. But a court accepted his appeal earlier this year and ordered a retrial.
The ex-president probably has no political future, but the court ruling, which state prosecutor Ahmed el-Bahrawi said cannot be appealed, made some Egyptians indignant.
"The army has brought back Mubarak's regime, the same regime," said Guma Abdel Alim, outside a bicycle shop in central Cairo. "Those who were elected by the people are now in prison."
He was referring to a wide-scale security sweep on Morsi's Muslim Brotherhood that has netted many of its leaders.
Shop worker Rubi Abdel Azim said Mubarak had been the worst ruler in Egypt's history.
Political turbulence has kept Egypt on edge for months. At least 900 people, including 100 soldiers and police, have been killed in a crackdown on Morsi supporters in the past week, making it the country's bloodiest internal episode in decades.
On Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel was behind the overthrow of Morsi, whose administration took a number of measures against Tel Aviv.
Erdogan made the remarks during a nationally televised speech.
The Turkish prime minister also criticized certain Islamic countries, saying they are betraying Egypt by backing the country's military-appointed government.
“What is said about Egypt? That democracy is not the ballot box. Who is behind this? Israel is. We have the evidence in our hands,” Erdogan said. “That’s exactly what happened.”
In 1979, under the authoritarian rule of Anwar Sadat, Egypt became the first Arab country to sign a peace treaty with Israel, but was compelled to agree to supply gas to Israel as one of the main economic conditions of the U.S.-sponsored peace deal, Press TV reported.
In 1981, Mubarak took power after Sadat was assassinated. Mubarak continued Sadat’s policies throughout his three-decade dictatorship.
In addition, Mubarak also fully supported Israel in its blockade of 1.7 million Palestinians living in the Gaza Strip, a situation that created more miseries for the Palestinians and infuriated many Egyptians.
In January 2011, Egyptians launched a revolution against the Mubarak regime, which eventually ended his rule on February 11, 2011.
Almost a year after the revolution, Egyptians elected a new parliament and in mid-2012 a new president, Mohamed Morsi.
In March 2012, the lower house of the Egyptian parliament unanimously approved a text declaring that Israel was the number one enemy of Egypt and called for the expulsion of the Israeli ambassador and a halt to gas exports to Israel.
On March 12, Egyptian MPs voted by a show of hands on the text of a report, which was compiled by the Arab Affairs Committee of the People's Assembly (lower house of parliament).
"Revolutionary Egypt will never be a friend, partner or ally of the Zionist entity, which we consider to be the number one enemy of Egypt and the Arab nation," the report declared, adding, "It will deal with that entity as an enemy, and the Egyptian government is hereby called upon to review all its relations and accords with that enemy."
The revolutionary government of Morsi also relaxed many bans imposed on the Palestinians and established relations with the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas. It also improved relations between Egypt and a number of Islamic countries with whom ties had been strained under Sadat and Mubarak.
The Morsi government also announced to revise Egyptian-Israeli ties and reportedly considered terminating the so-called peace deal with Tel Aviv under which Egypt had to agree to supply gas to Israel at an extremely low price.
In a televised speech late on July 3 night, Egyptian army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Sisi announced that Morsi, a former leading member of the Muslim Brotherhood, was no longer in office and declared that the head of the Supreme Constitutional Court, Adly Mahmoud Mansour, had been appointed as the new interim president of Egypt. The army also suspended the constitution.
Army officials said Morsi, who took office in June 2012, was being held “preventively” by the military.
On July 5, Muslim Brotherhood supreme leader Mohammed Badie said the coup against Morsi is illegal and millions will remain on the street until he is reinstated as president.
Since July 3, Egyptian security forces have killed hundreds of people in a bloody crackdown on supporters of Morsi.
On Tuesday, the new government arrested Badie and sent him to Tora prison in southern Cairo, where Mubarak and other leaders from his regime are being held. A day earlier, Mubarak’s lawyers announced that he would be freed from prison within days.
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