CAIRO // An Egyptian court today acquitted Hosni Mubarak’s two sons and his last prime minister of corruption charges.
The Cairo criminal court found Gamal and Alaa Mubarak and Ahmed Shafiq innocent of corruption in a case that arose from the 1995 sale of a plot of land to Mubarak’s sons by an association led at the time by the former prime minister, judicial officials said. Prosecutors claim the land was sold to the two at a price lower than its market value.
Also acquitted were four retired generals who served as board members of the association.
Alaa, a wealthy businessman, and Gamal, Mr Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent as Egyptian president, are facing a separate trial on other corruption charges. They have been held in detention since April 2011, two months after their father resigned in the face of a popular uprising.
A small group of Mubarak supporters in the courtroom cheered the verdict. “Oh Gamal Mubarak, the presidency awaits you,” they chanted.
Mr Shafiq, a career air force officer like Mr Mubarak, has lived in exile abroad since he was narrowly defeated by Islamist Mohammed Morsi in a presidential runoff in June last year.
It is not clear whether Mr Shafiq plans to return to politics.
A statement by the court said that the irregularity committed by Mr Mubarak’s sons and Mr Shafiq is no more than an “administrative violation” that is not criminal. It also said that Alaa and Gamal Mubarak have given back the plot. It did not say whether the two could face any other penalties.
Mr Morsi was removed from power in July after massive protests against his rule. He is on trial for inciting murder while awaiting a separate trial on charges of conspiring with foreign militant groups.
Mr Mubarak was sentenced to life in 2012 for failing to stop the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising that ended his 29-year rule. He was acquitted on appeal and is now being retried.
Meanwhile, authorities arrested Mohammed Adel of April 6, one of several youth movements that led the 2011 uprising.
Lawyer Gamal Eid said Mr Adel and five others from The Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights in Cairo were seized along with computers during the raid early on Thursday. All six were blindfolded and handcuffed when taken to an unknown location where they were kept for seven hours.
Mr Eid said the six were later taken to a police station before all but Mr Adel were released.
The lawyer claimed security officers pushed a gun inside the mouth of one of the five during their detention to quieten him, and beat up another.
Already in detention are three of the 2011 uprising’s best known youth leaders: Alaa Abdel-Fattah, Ahmed Douma and Ahmed Maher. They are accused of breaking a recent law that places conditions on street protests and of assaulting police.