Court sentences Mubarak to life in prison

Hosni Mubarak, the former president of Egypt, was sentenced to life in prison Saturday for “pre-meditated crimes” that led to the death of more than 800 unarmed protesters last year.

The 84-year-old Arab leader, on a gurney inside the defendants’ cage, did not react as Judge Ahmed Rifaat’s described the “30 years of intense darkness” that inspired 18 days of uprising in February 2011:

“The peaceful sons of the homeland came out of every deep ravine with all the pain they experienced from injustice, heartbreak, humiliation and oppression. … Bearing the burden of their suffering on their shoulders, they moved peacefully toward Tahrir Square in Cairo, Egypt’s capital, demanding only justice, freedom and democracy.”

News agencies in Egypt are reporting after the sentencing Mubarak suffered a “health crisis” en route to Torah prison in Cairo.

Writing in the days before the sentencing, Peter Goodspeed of the National Post suggested the outcome was unlikely to bring any sense of closure to Egypt:

“The shock of seeing the former president in a prisoner’s cage, even though he lay on a hospital bed and said little during his trial other than to acknowledge his presence, rattled Egypt to its core. Whatever the verdict, it may re-ignite another round of street demonstrations, just as the campaign for the presidential run-off vote, scheduled for June 16 and June 17, gets underway.”

The verdict brought thousands of Egyptians to the streets, Reuters reports: “Some wanted Mubarak executed, some feared the judge’s ruling exposed weakness in the case that could let the former military man off on appeal.”

Writing for the New York Times, David Kirkpatrick explains that while the ruling establishes no leader is above the law, it also acknowledged that prosecutors had presented no proof that Mubarak or his aides had directly ordered the killing of protesters.

Click here to read Michael Petrou on the transformation of Egypt since Mubarak’s overthrow in February 2011.