- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 13, 2011

CAIRO | Egypt’s ousted President Hosni Mubarak was put under detention in his hospital room Wednesday for investigation on charges of corruption, abuse of power and killings of protesters. It was 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 - are already languishing, facing similar investigations on corruption.

The move reflected the enormous pressure from the public on the ruling military, which inherited power when Mr. Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11. Last week, tens of thousands protested in Cairo’s central Tahrir Square demanding that Mr. Mubarak and his family be put on trial, and many in the crowds 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 would be detained for 15 days for investigation. Authorities planned to hold him in a military hospital outside Cairo, a security official in Sharm el-Sheikh said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

Protesters had pushed hard for Mr. Mubarak’s prosecution, demanding what they called a clear signal that the corruption that pervaded under his rule of nearly 30 years would be broken definitively. 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 taking no action to prevent them, or was even 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.

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.

Hundreds are estimated to have been killed during the protests as police opened fire and cracked down on the crowds. Officials put the number of protesters killed during the uprising at 365, but human rights activists and others have said the figure is much higher.

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