Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his sons, Gamal and Alaa, were found guilty of corruption in 2014 for embezzling millions of dollars from the national treasury. The case was retried last May, ending in another guilty verdict, which was upheld on Saturday after an appeal.
“It was not immediately clear, however, how long Mubarak would remain in detention. Both of his sons were set free in October with time served taken into account,” AFP notes. Hosni Mubarak, who is 87 years old and in poor health, has served most of his detention in a military hospital.
AFP reports the Mubaraks were also fined an amount equal to the money they stole, about $16 million in U.S. dollars and an additional $3 million.
The case came to be known as the “presidential palaces affair” in Egyptian media, according to the UK Guardian, because the money taken by the dictator and his sons was earmarked for renovating Egypt’s presidential palaces. Instead, they used the funds to build private villas for Gamal and Alaa.
Some Egyptian and international observers find this verdict and sentence to be suspiciously small potatoes given the allegations against the dictator, which include hundreds of deaths when he attempted to suppress the 2011 demonstrations that ultimately toppled his regime. The murder charges against Mubarak were long ago thrown out, although efforts are underway to bring them back.
Other Egyptians remain loyal to Mubarak and view even the relatively mild punishments given to him so far as unbearable insults. The Associated Press reports that “a group of Mubarak’s hardcore supporters, mostly women, prematurely erupted in jubilation – and then in tears and anger once they heard the judge say the appeal had been rejected.”
One of the women tearfully told an AP reporter, “He does not deserve this,” while holding a poster of the deposed dictator. Another prayed for divine vengeance against the current president of Egypt, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, even though Sisi came to power by deposing the guy who deposed Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Morsi.
Hardcore Mubarak supporters might take some comfort from knowing that Morsi has fared far worse in Egyptian courts than Mubarak, having been sentenced for various offenses to 20 years of hard labor, life in prison, and death.