Egypt: Hosni Mubarak to be quizzed over deaths

Hosni Mubarak: ""I have been in great pain because of the unjust campaigns"

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has been summoned by the state prosecutor for questioning over alleged corruption and killings of protesters.

The announcement came shortly after Mr Mubarak made his first statement since he was ousted two months ago, denying accusations of corruption.

The former leader said he had the right to defend his reputation and denied having any assets in foreign countries.

Mr Mubarak's sons Gamal and Alaa have been summoned for questioning as well.

The prosecutor-general said Mr Mubarak's statement, broadcast on al-Arabiya TV, would not affect the inquiry.

On Friday, Cairo's Tahrir Square once again filled with demonstrators calling for Mr Mubarak and his family to be tried for corruption.

At least one person was killed and dozens were injured when troops moved in to clear the square. The injured suffered gunshot wounds but the army denied using live rounds.

Protesters and anti-corruption campaigners have been pressing for an investigation into the Mubarak family's assets, put at anywhere from $1bn to $70bn (£616m-£43bn).

Analysis

The timing of these latest developments is crucial. They follow mass demonstrations calling for the prosecution of the former president and his close associates.

After a huge rally on Friday, hundreds of activists said they would stay in Tahrir Square in central Cairo until their demands were met.

This led to violence and put a greater strain on relations with Egypt's new military rulers. It also opened up divisions in the protest movement over how to react.

The hope will be that these interrogations and investigations will assure people that justice will be done and restore calm.

Speculation has been rife about Mr Mubarak's whereabouts and his personal finances since he was forced from office nearly two months ago. It is likely to increase with his audio statement in which he insists he has money only in an Egyptian bank account and served his country honourably and with loyalty.

Correspondents say protesters have become impatient with the slow pace of change pursued by the army council which replaced Mr Mubarak after he stood down on 11 February.

Mr Mubarak resigned on 11 February after 18 days of anti-government protests in which at least 365 people died.

He fled to his villa in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh with his family.

Mr Mubarak, his sons and their wives have been banned from leaving the country and their assets have been frozen.

Mr Mubarak made an audio recording of his speech on Saturday in the wake of the latest protests. It was broadcast by al-Arabiya TV on Sunday.

"I have been in great pain because of the unjust campaigns and untrue allegations targeting myself and my family," he said.

"They aim to tarnish my reputation and discredit my integrity, my stance, my political and military history during which I worked hard for Egypt and its people in peace and war."

Mr Mubarak, 82, is believed to be in poor health, though his aides have denied this.

Legal threat

Mr Mubarak said he was willing to co-operate in any investigation to prove that he did not own any property abroad or hold foreign bank accounts.

He said he would authorise the prosecutor-general "in writing to allow him to contact, through the foreign ministry, all countries in the world to prove to them... that their former president only owns domestically, according to previous financial disclosure."

But he warned of legal action if he considered himself defamed, saying: "I reserve my legal rights toward whoever tried to ruin my and my family's reputation."

Former Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif has also been detained for 15 days.

Prosecutors want to question him about the misuse of public funds.

Egypt has already requested a number of governments to freeze the overseas assets of the Mubarak family.

Three Mubarak-era ministers, including former interior minister Habib el-Adly, have already been charged with corruption.

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