Mubarak leaves prison for house arrestra

Updated: 2013-08-23 06:34


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At the Maadi hospital where he was taken, there were few signs of extra security for Mubarak apart from three police cars parked around the corner. Soldiers guarded the main gate, across a tree-lined boulevard from a Nile restaurant and boat club.

Patients and visitors on foot and in cars came and went from the white- and green-painted medical complex which resembles a beach hotel, with palm trees and landscaped gardens.

At the prison he left behind, Mohamed Hussein, a 36-year-old jobless man waiting outside to visit a jailed relative, said: "We love Mubarak." His sister Fatheya chimed in: "Isn't it enough that for 30 years he did not drag us into a war, and let us live in dignity?"

A brief commotion occurred when the daughter of a jailed Brotherhood leader, Khairat al-Shater, berated journalists awaiting Mubarak's release. "Why are you waiting for Mubarak?" Khadija al-Shater asked. "We Islamists are in jail in there."

As several Egyptian journalists shouted at her to answer for the deaths of police officers in the unrest, she said she had been denied access to her imprisoned father. Asked if he had seen a lawyer, she told Reuters: "His lawyer is in jail."

Mubarak's release plays into the Brotherhood's argument that the military is trying to rehabilitate the old order. The army-installed government casts its conflict with the Islamist movement as a life-or-death struggle against terrorism.

Political upheaval has gripped Egypt since Morsi's removal by the army on July 3, just over a year after he was elected.

The military's declared plan for a return to democracy has yet to calm the most populous Arab nation, where security forces impose a nightly curfew as they hunt down Brotherhood leaders.

The clampdown appears to have weakened the Arab world's oldest and arguably most influential Islamist group, which won five successive votes in Egypt in the two and a half years since Mubarak fell.