SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was abruptly hospitalized Tuesday for heart problems during an investigation over allegations of corruption and violence against protesters, reported state TV.
In a sign that his ailment might not be very serious, however, Justice Minister Mohammed el-Guindi said the former president was now being questioned in the hospital.
The 82-year-old Mubarak was deposed Feb. 11 after 18 days of popular protests and has been under house arrest in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the last two months. The public prosecutor announced Monday he was under investigation.
Dozens of demonstrators picketed the hospital, denouncing the president and carrying a sign reading “Here is the butcher.” They scuffled briefly with supporters of Mubarak amid a massive security presence.
El-Guindi said Mubarak was being investigated over his role in the violence against protesters during the uprising in which more than 800 people died. The investigation into corruption charges would be carried out later by the Justice Ministry’s anti-corruption department, he said.
Deciding on the site for the interrogation was a dilemma for the authorities who wanted to grant the ailing president a degree of privacy and security.
Mubarak arrived under heavy police protection to the main hospital and stepped out of his armored Mercedes unaided before being taken to the presidential suite in the pyramid-shaped building, according to doctors and security officials at the hospital who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The protest movement that deposed Mubarak is now pushing for him to be brought to justice for what they say are decades of abuse. Since Friday, hundreds reoccupied parts of Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo.
The protesters had criticized the army for being too close to the old regime and not swiftly bringing Mubarak to trial.
On Tuesday, however, a scuffle broke out when some residents tried to break up the four-day sit-in, removing barbed-wire and barricades. The army then moved in and took control of the square and cordoned off the once grassy roundabout that had been the center of many demonstrations.
Sanaa Seif, a 17-year-old on the scene, said she saw the army forcibly remove people and the state news agency confirmed that the military police had detained a number of “outlaw thugs” at the square.
Mubarak has a history of minor ailments and underwent gallbladder surgery in Germany in March last year.
He has kept a low profile since he was ousted, living on his compound in Sharm el-Sheikh. He was banned from traveling and his assets have been frozen. Many of his senior aides have already either been questioned or detained pending investigations.