Egypt: Suzanne Mubarak 'recovering' from sudden illness

Suzanne Mubarak Suzanne Mubarak: Seen as a powerful backer of son Gamal's claims to succeed his father

The wife of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak is recovering in hospital after falling ill when told she was being detained in a corruption probe.

Initial reports said Suzanne Mubarak, 70, suffered a heart attack but some officials say it was a "panic attack".

Mrs Mubarak's condition has improved to stable in Sharm el-Sheikh hospital.

The Mubaraks face allegations of "illegally acquiring wealth". Mr Mubarak had a suspected heart attack when first questioned in April.

The former president, who held power for 30 years but stepped down in February after weeks of protests, is currently receiving treatment in Sharm el-Sheikh hospital while under arrest.

Mr Mubarak has been detained by Egypt's Illicit Gains Authority, on charges he abused his position to illegally acquire wealth.

He is also accused of involvement in the killings of anti-regime protesters.

The 83-year-old has been held under arrest in the hospital in the Red Sea resort since suffering heart problems. His detention was extended by 15 days early on Friday morning.

Fall from grace

On Friday Mohammed Fathallah, the head of the hospital, said Mrs Mubarak had suffered a "suspected heart attack and a sharp increase in blood pressure" after she was told she would be detained for 15 days.

Mrs Mubarak fainted and was moved to intensive care.

But another hospital official told Associated Press news agency on Saturday that Mrs Mubarak had suffered a sudden panic attack that aggravated her high blood pressure and caused her severe heart pain.

Suzanne Mubarak

  • Born 28 February 1941
  • Studied politics and sociology at the American University of Cairo
  • First Lady of Egypt from 1981 until 2011
  • Seen as driving force behind plans for her son Gamal to succeed father as president
  • Interrogated about a luxury villa she owns in Cairo, as well as $3m bank account
  • Ms Mubarak is half-Welsh, her mother Lily having grown up in Pontypridd
  • She is also famous as the patron of children's TV show Alam Simsim, Egypt's version of Sesame Street

Egypt's Health Minister Ashraf Hatem said: "Her health is stable and she is currently under the police's control."

Mrs Mubarak had kept an almost constant vigil by her husband's side since he was admitted to hospital a month ago, says the BBC's Jonathan Head, in Cairo.

Her detention marks a dramatic fall for a woman once seen as the most powerful influence on Egypt's former ruler, and a further blow to Mr Mubarak, whose health is frail, our correspondent says.

While the initial period of her detention is 15 days, it could be extended, as it has been for her husband and their two sons since they were taken into custody, he adds.

Earlier this week, Mrs Mubarak was questioned about a bank account containing more than $3m (£1.9m) and a luxury house she owns.

Reformers in Egypt believe the Mubarak family accumulated a fortune worth tens of billions of dollars while in power.

Hosni Mubarak has denied this, and little hard evidence has yet been made public. However their bank accounts in Cairo and in Switzerland have been frozen.

Many Egyptians also believe the former first lady was instrumental in pushing for her younger son, Gamal, to succeed his father - one of the grievances that mobilised opposition protesters, our correspondent says.

Travel ban

The military council which has been in power since Mr Mubarak stepped down has vowed to bring to justice all those accused of corruption.

The former president, his wife, their two sons and their wives have been banned from travel and had their assets frozen by general prosecutor Abdel Magid Mahmud.

More than 20 ministers and businessmen linked to Mr Mubarak's regime have been detained since his departure from office.

Last week, former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly was sentenced to 12 years in jail on charges of money-laundering and profiteering.

Adly also faces separate charges of ordering troops to fire on demonstrators. He could face the death penalty if convicted.

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