'Mubarak to be questioned on corruption charges'

Sources close to Egypt's Prosecutor General say ousted president enjoys no immunity and would be sent to prison if convicted.

By OREN KESSLER, REUTERS
March 3, 2011 20:28
3 minute read.
Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak

Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak 311 Reu. (photo credit: Reuters TV / Reuters)

 
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Former president Hosni Mubarak will be brought to Cairo next week for questioning in connection with a number of corruption charges, the Ahram Online website quoted sources close to Egypt’s prosecutor-general as saying on Thursday.

Mubarak enjoys no immunity and may well be made to stand trial on the charges, the source said. He added that Mubarak would be sent to prison if convicted.

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Also on Thursday, Egypt’s prime minister resigned and the army asked a former transportation minister to form a new government, in a gesture to pro-democracy activists who want the regime purged of Hosni Mubarak’s old guard.

Ahmed Shafiq was appointed prime minister by Mubarak on January 29, in the president’s final days in office, and the weeks since then have brought protests and political pressure for Shafiq to step down.

Reform campaigner Mohamed ElBaradei told Reuters that Shafiq’s resignation showed the military was responding to popular demands. He said it should now also adjust the timetable for elections to give candidates more time to prepare.

One Shafiq aide said appointing Essam Sharaf prime minister was timed to defuse calls for another mass demonstration on Friday after a first modest reshuffle by Shafiq failed to mollify protesters who want a clean break with the Mubarak era.

The Muslim Brotherhood and other political groupings had also been calling for Shafiq and his government to step aside, and the army, in an apparent response, had vowed to halt any “counter-revolution” from hijacking Egypt’s revolution.



The key jobs of foreign, interior and justice ministers were also likely to be reshuffled shortly, an army source said, to cleanse the government of remaining links to Mubarak.

Since Mubarak’s overthrow, hundreds of thousands of Egyptians have turned out in Cairo’s Tahrir Square and other cities to celebrate his downfall and send a message to the military that the people will not be ignored.

Protesters, some of whom have erected tents in Tahrir Square, greeted the news of Shafiq’s resignation with jubilation and relief, chanting, “The people and the army are united.”

The Council of the Protectors of the Revolution, a body of technocrats and political figures, welcomed Sharaf as premier.

But not everyone was as positive.

“This is a change for the worse, not for the better,” said Hassan Nafaa, a political scientist at Cairo University who also actively campaigned against Mubarak. “Shafiq left but the one who has been installed has no political vision or anything to do with politics. There are other interests being secured that are thwarting change.”

Shafiq, like Mubarak a former air force commander, has been tipped by one military source as a potential contender for the presidency in a forthcoming election. Since 1952, all of Egypt’s presidents have been drawn from the armed forces.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa, a former Egyptian foreign minister, has emerged as an early front-runner after announcing his candidacy.

Former International Atomic Energy Agency head ElBaradei is also seen as a candidate.

Also on Thursday, Egypt’s prosecutor-general denied reports from a day earlier that Mubarak and his family were in Saudi Arabia, insisting they were still in the Egyptian Sinai resort of Sharm e-Sheikh, AFP reported.

The state-owned daily Al-Akhbar on Wednesday said Mubarak was receiving medical treatment for cancer in Saudi Arabia, citing “informed sources.” It said Mubarak, his wife and two sons were living on a military base in the northeastern Saudi city of Tabuk.

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