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Egyptian Court Drops Case Against Ousted Former President


This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Scott Simon. A court in Cairo has dismissed murder charges against the ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Mr. Mubarak was charged with involvement in the killing of hundreds of protesters during the 2011 uprising to remove him from power.

Today's verdict concludes Hosni Mubarak's retrial. He'd been convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2012. The verdict was overturned on appeal. In the courtroom today, people burst into cheers, but those who protested in his rule say this is a sign Egypt's revolution has been defeated. NPR's Leila Fadel joins us from Cairo. Thanks for being with us.


SIMON: And what happened in the courtroom?

FADEL: Well, basically, the judge dismissed the charges against Mubarak; charges of the killing of hundreds of protesters in 2011 who went to the streets to walk against his rule. He was acquitted on separate corruption charges. And he's expected to go free soon. He's currently serving time on a separate corruption case, and he was convicted of three years on that. His minister of interior, who was reviled for brutal police tactics, was also acquainted as were his deputies. And it left a lot of people asking, well, who is accountable for the more than 800 people that were killed in 2011.

SIMON: How was the decision received?

FADEL: In the courtroom, a lot of people cheered. And in lots of the capital, we were in coffee shops where people also cheered saying, you know, it's time for stability. But then there were others whose hearts were broken; many who protested in 2011 for freedom from a police state who are saying that they are watching the symbols of that repression now be pronounced innocent.

SIMON: And what's the environment in Egypt right now that surrounds this decision?

FADEL: Really, right now, you have an environment of repression. You have three Al Jazeera English journalists in jail accused of being terrorists on little to no evidence. You've had mass trials of people getting death sentences with no due process. The first freely elected president, Islamist president Mohamed Morsi, was ousted from power and put in jail. Many people point to that as a sign that there really isn't democracy.

SIMON: But after the decision, there were many people who were visibly happy?

FADEL: Yeah. It's been a tumultuous four years - almost four years now where the economy has tanked. There isn't stability. There are militant attacks in the Sinai. And all of that has caused people to - some people feel that maybe democracy isn't the way, that they need a strong hand, that they prefer stability over issues of human rights and freedom.

SIMON: Mr. Mubarak goes free now?

FADEL: Well, at this point, it's a little bit unclear. He is serving a three-year sentence on a separate corruption charge. What's unclear is whether the time that he's been in jail is time served. But what is definitely clear is he will not be serving any jail time for the deaths of those hundreds of people that were killed.

SIMON: NPR's Leila Fadel in Cairo. Thanks so much.

FADEL: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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