Protests erupt in Egypt over Hosni Mubarak verdicts

Activist Omar Hamilton: "It feels like the revolution is back in a big way"

Protests have continued overnight in Cairo's Tahrir Square, after ex-President Hosni Mubarak was jailed for life for his part in the killing of protesters during the 2011 revolution.

The crowds are furious at the acquittal of key security officials who were on trial alongside Mubarak.

Four interior ministry officials and two local security chiefs were cleared of complicity in protesters' killings.

Rallies against the verdict were also held in Alexandria, Suez and Mansoura.

Correspondents say a verdict that was meant to bring closure for Egypt is in danger of reopening old wounds.

In another development, dozens of protesters stormed the campaign headquarters of presidential candidate Ahmed Shafiq in the Fayoum area south of Cairo, Egyptian media reported.

Mr Shafiq was Mubarak's last prime minister.

Verdict 'mocks us'

Some protesters at Tahrir Square, the focal point of last year's uprising, say they are determined to begin a sit-in.

At the scene

The mood in Tahrir Square is extremely gloomy. Some protesters have joined in chants of "illegitimate" in reference to the verdicts delivered earlier.

Others just sit on kerbstones in the darkness quietly reflecting on this critical moment in Egypt's democratic transition.

One young man, Mohamed Fouad, laments that there has been no reform to the interior ministry as protesters demanded last year. "The first goal of the revolution was the removal of the regime," he says. "Why are we still fighting it after more than a year?"

As he speaks there is a din of hammering from protesters re-erecting tents in the centre of the roundabout. This could turn into a longer demonstration, heading into the second round of the presidential election later this month.

They have been joined by prominent public figures and football fans known as Ultras, who have been implicated in a number of political confrontations.

The slogan from last year's uprising: "Down with the military rule" is being chanted in the square and many have vociferously condemned Saturday's verdict.

The BBC's Yolande Knell, at the square, says there is particular anger at the acquittals of the officials, which many take as a sign that there has been little reform.

"The Mubarak verdict mocks us. He and [former Interior Minister Habib] Adly got a sentence and their aides got nothing," protester Sharif Ali told the BBC. "When they return to court on appeal, they will be freed too."

But, our correspondent adds, others have poured on to the streets out of depression at the current political situation.

The first round of recent presidential elections has left Egyptians with a choice between an Islamist candidate and an ex-prime minister from the Mubarak era.

Scuffles in court

The 84-year-old former president is the first former leader to be tried in person since the start of the Arab Spring in early 2011.

Announcing the verdicts, Judge Ahmed Refaat said Mubarak and former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly had failed to stop security forces using deadly force against unarmed demonstrators. They were both given life terms.

The verdicts and sentences

  • Hosni Mubarak: Guilty of conspiring in killing of protesters - life imprisonment; not guilty of corruption
  • Alaa and Gamal Mubarak: Not guilty of corruption
  • Former Interior Minister Habib al-Adly: Guilty of conspiring in killing of protesters - life imprisonment
  • Four senior interior ministry officials - Abd El Rahman; Adli Fayed; Ahmed Ramzy; Ismail al-Shaer: Not guilty of charges of complicity, instigation and providing assistance in the murder and attempted murder of protesters
  • Hussein Salem, business tycoon: Not guilty of corruption
  • Two Greater Cairo security directors - Osama al-Marassy and Omar Faramawy: Not guilty of damage caused to Egyptian property and the economy

The judge insisted that the 10-month trial had been fair.

He said the Mubarak era had been "30 years of darkness" and praised what he called "the sons of the nation who rose up peacefully for freedom and justice".

Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, were acquitted on separate charges of corruption. But his sons will remain in detention as they are to be charged with stock-market manipulation.

After the verdict, scuffles erupted in court. Outside, sentencing was initially greeted by celebrations, but anger soon took over when news of the acquittals spread.

State television reported that as he was being transferred to jail, Mubarak at first refused to leave the helicopter and then suffered from severe health problems. He has reportedly been admitted to the prison hospital.

Mubarak, who ruled the country from 1981 to 2011, had faced a possible death sentence over the killing of about 850 protesters.

The first leader toppled during the Arab Spring was Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali of Tunisia, who was found guilty in absentia of drugs and gun charges in July.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi was killed by rebels in October. Yemen's Ali Abdullah Saleh received immunity from prosecution after handing over power in November.

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