Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak sits inside a cage
in a courtroom in Cairo in this June 2012 file photo.
Egypt has ordered a retrial of deposed president Hosni
Mubarak after accepting an appeal against his life sentence,
opening up an old wound in the painful transition from decades
of authoritarian rule.
Mubarak, 84, was ousted in 2011 after 30 years in power and
jailed for life last year over the killing of protesters by
security forces trying to quell a mass street revolt.
He was the first Arab ruler to be brought to court by his own
A Cairo court granted Mubarak and his former interior
minister the appeal as Egypt prepares to mark the second
anniversary of the uprising on Jan. 25.
The retrial is likely to stir emotions and could plunge the
government of new President Mohamed Mursi into dangerous
waters as he tries to restore law and order and a wrecked
Egypt remains volatile as it prepares for a parliamentary
election in the next few months. Anxiety over the economy is
on the boil after protests, often violent, in late 2012
prompted citizens to snap up hard currency and take out
During Mubarak's 10-month trial, many protesters accused the
then ruling generals and officials seen as loyal to the
ousted president of protecting him. A retrial may revive
calls for a deeper purge of those viewed as holdovers from
the old era.
"The court has ruled to accept the appeal filed by the
defendants ... and orders a retrial," Judge Ahmed Ali Abdel
Crowds of Mubarak supporters attending the hearing shouted
"God is greatest", clapped and whistled as the judge read out
the appeal ruling. Groups of joyful supporters were also
spotted handing out sweets in central Cairo.
Mubarak's health and fate are debated intensely in Egypt as
people try to turn a page on decades of his iron-fist rule
and the political turmoil that followed his downfall.
During the original trial, the televised image of their once
feared leader prostrate on a hospital gurney in the
defendants' iron cage captivated the nation, drawing a line
under his era. The retrial is certain to revive difficult
"If Mubarak and his corrupt aides get lighter sentences this
will reignite the revolution and there will be more
bloodshed," Ahmed Abdel Ghaffour, a 33-year-old engineer in
The judge did not clarify the legal basis for the retrial,
nor did he say when the hearings were likely to start.
But Mohamed Abdel Razek, one of Mubarak's lawyers, said the
retrial would be based on the same evidence used in the
original trial and that it would take at least four months to
set a date.
"No new evidence will be added to the case," he said, adding
that there were countless flaws in the verdict. "(These)
resulted in the unfair trial of our client."
After the original trial, many in Egypt were disappointed
that Mubarak had not been explicitly convicted of ordering
the killing of protesters as well as of what rights groups
see as widespread abuses committed under his rule.
Instead, he was found guilty of being complicit in the
killings. Around 850 protesters died in the uprising but some
rights groups claim the figure is higher.
The opposition, a loose alliance of liberals, secularists and
Christians, is now gearing up for demonstrations to coincide
with the second anniversary of the uprising on Jan. 25.
The retrial "takes everything and everyone back to square
one," said Hassan Nafaa, a professor of political science.
"The timing of the verdict is critical with the second
anniversary of the revolution coming up on January 25th.
Revolutionary youth and opposition will certainly mobilise on
this day for justice."
The price of the freedom brought by Mubarak's overthrow is a
volatile new politics that often boils over into sporadic
Attackers threw petrol bombs at tents housing protesters
outside the presidential palace in Cairo overnight, firing
rubber bullets at security forces.
The exact state of Mubarak's health is not clear, though last
year some media reported that he was close to death. He was
moved from prison to a military hospital in late December
after breaking ribs in a fall.
His legal team had pressed to have him moved to a
better-equipped facility, saying he was not receiving proper
He will remain in custody as he faces new charges from the
public funds prosecutor for receiving gifts worth millions of
Egyptian pounds from Egypt's state newspaper, Al-Ahram.
Mubarak has not spoken publicly about the events that
followed his downfall, saying almost nothing during the trial
beyond confirming his presence and denying the charges.
The court also overturned non-guilty verdicts on Mubarak, his
two sons and a former aide on corruption charges and ordered
a retrial of six aides to former interior minister Habib
Abdel Razek, the lawyer, said the new panel of judges could
consider Mubarak's health when issuing a verdict.