Egypt’s Mubarak detained for investigation

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CAIRO (AP) — Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was put under detention in his hospital room Wednesday for investigation on accusations of corruption, abuse of power, and the killing of protesters in a dramatic step that brought celebrations from the movement that drove him from office.

Mr. Mubarak‘s two sons, Gamal and Alaa, also were detained for questioning and taken to Cairo’s Torah prison, where a string of former top regime figures — including the former prime minister, head of the ruling party and Mr. Mubarak‘s chief of staff — already are languishing, facing similar investigations on corruption.

The move reflected the enormous pressure from the public on the ruling military, which was handed power when Mr. Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11. On Friday tens of thousands protested in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square to demand that Mr. Mubarak and his family be put on trial, and many in the crowd accused the military of protecting the former president.

The detention came hours after the 82-year-old Mr. Mubarak was hospitalized Tuesday evening with heart problems in Sharm el-Sheikh, the Red Sea resort where he and his family have been living since his fall from power.

Early Wednesday, the public prosecutor announced that Mr. Mubarak was ordered put under detention for 15 days for investigation. He was to be flown later in the day to a military hospital outside Cairo, where he would remain in detention, a security official in Sharm el-Sheikh said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

Protesters have pushed hard for Mr. Mubarak‘s prosecution, demanding what they called a clear signal that the corruption that pervaded his nearly 30-year rule definitively would be broken. Public outrage was widespread over allegations that large fortunes were skimmed off by top regime officials through shady deals over the years.

Beyond the anger has been the fear that Mubarak cronies are maneuvering to regain power as the country tries to work out democratic rule — and that the ruling military was not taking action to prevent them, or even was abetting them.

“I was so happy in the morning when I heard the news,” said Ahmed Maher, co-founder of the April 6 group, one of the movements that led the unprecedented 18-day protest movement against Mr. Mubarak.

“All people are very happy because this step reassured them after a period of doubts and stagnation,” referring to doubts over the military’s intentions, he told the Associated Press. Worries over the military were intensified by a fierce pre-dawn raid on protesters in Tahrir Square on Saturday that killed at least one person.

Still, he said, Egypt faces a long road to ensure the transition period leads to real democracy. “Trying Mubarak and his regime is very important, but what is superimportant is the political future of Egypt and what kind of political system we want to have,” he said.

The prosecutor’s announcement gave a momentary easing of tensions between the military and protesters. Following the prosecutor’s announcement, the coalition of youth groups that have organized the protests said it is canceling a planned new mass demonstration in Tahrir Square on Friday to demand Mr. Mubarak‘s prosecution.

But the coalition underlined that there are still demands left unfulfilled — including the dissolving of the former ruling party and the sacking of Mubarak-appointed governors as well as university deans and local city councils, both seen as levers of his regime.

Activist Amr Bassiouny said in a Tweet that the detention was not the protesters’ primary goal, but “free speech, free assembly, free press — no torture, real democracy, end of lies.”

Since Mr. Mubarak‘s fall, activists have complained that the Armed Forces Supreme Council, the body of top generals that now rules Egypt, has been dictating the post-Mubarak transition without consultation. Relations have soured rapidly over past week, amid reports of abuses by the military that reminded some of Mr. Mubarak‘s rule — including torture of detained protesters and the imprisonment of an activist for criticizing the army

Protesters have criticized the army for being too close to the old regime and not bringing Mr. Mubarak swiftly to trial while hundreds of protesters remain in military detention, some convicted in swift trials before military courts.

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