- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 12, 2011

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt (AP) — Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was abruptly hospitalized Tuesday at this Red Sea resort for heart problems during an investigation into allegations of corruption and the violence against protesters, state TV reported.

The hospitalization of the 82-year-old Mr. Mubarak came the same day he was supposed to be questioned by prosecutors. Mr. Mubarak was deposed Feb. 11 after 18 days of popular protests.

Mr. Mubarak’s two sons also were summoned and were being questioned at the prosecutor’s office in the provincial capital of El-Tor.

Dozens of demonstrators picketed the hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh, denouncing the president and carrying a sign with the words “Here is the butcher.” They scuffled with supporters of Mr. Mubarak amid a massive security presence.

Two security officials said Mr. Mubarak arrived under heavy police protection at the main hospital, and according to two doctors in the hospital, he stepped out of his armored Mercedes unaided and was taken to the presidential suite in the pyramid-shaped building.

The officials and doctors spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

The protest movement that deposed Mr. Mubarak now is pushing for him to be brought to justice for what they say are decades of abuse, and since Friday, hundreds have 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 Mr. 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. Egypt’s state news agency reported that the military police had detained a number of “outlaw thugs” at the square.

Mr. Mubarak has been suffering a number of 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 already have been either questioned or detained pending investigations.

Egypt’s state TV reported that Safwat el-Sherif, a senior aide of Mr. Mubarak’s and one of the most powerful men in his regime, was ordered detained for an additional 15 days pending investigation into his role in attacks on protesters during the uprising.

Mr. el-Sherif already had been remanded into custody for 15 days pending corruption investigations.

On Sunday, Mr. Mubarak defended himself in a prerecorded message saying he had not abused his authority and investigators were welcome to check over his assets.

It was his first address to the people in the two months since he stepped down. Shortly after, the prosecutor general issued a summons for Mr. Mubarak to appear for questioning.

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.

Associated Press reporter Yasser Imam in El-Tor, Egypt, contributed to this report.

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