AFRICANGLOBE – Former Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak has been released from prison, according to state television.
The longtime autocrat was taken from Cairo‘s Tora prison by medical helicopter on Thursday, following a court ruling which ordered his release.
He was initially taken to a military hospital in Maadi, a suburb in southern Cairo. Footage on local television showed Mubarak transported from the helicopter to the hospital in a heavily-guarded ambulance.
Mubarak spent several weeks in the same hospital during his two-year detention, after lawyers cited poor conditions in prison. Authorities renovated a ward in Tora where Mubarak was later held.
A small crowd of supporters gathered outside the prison and cheered as the helicopter took off.
The scene was calmer outside the hospital than the prison, without any crowds gathered there.
The April 6 youth movement has called protests on Friday against his release.
But his release was met with indifference from many Egyptians, who are more focused on the country’s recent political crisis and last week’s massacre of supporters of deposed President Mohamed Morsi.
Mubarak still faces a retrial on charges of killing protesters during the 2011 revolution, and three other corruption cases as well. But he has already spent more than two years in pre-trial detention, the maximum allowed under Egyptian law, and so the courts have ruled him eligible for release pending trial.
Hazem el-Beblawi, the prime minister, said on Wednesday night that Mubarak would be placed under house arrest following his release. It was unclear where he would be held: in Cairo, at his villa in the resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, or elsewhere.
At least one of those corruption cases against Mubarak could be close to a settlement.
Wednesday’s ruling ordering his release concerns the so-called “Ahram gifts” case, in which Mubarak allegedly accepted $11m worth of gifts, including jewelry and watches, from the state-run newspaper Al-Ahram.
He has allegedly already repaid the amount of the gifts, and the other defendants in the case have been released, suggesting that the charges against Mubarak could eventually be dropped.
Mubarak was convicted last year of involvement in the murder of protesters during the 2011 uprising, and sentenced to life in prison, but was granted a retrial in January. His next hearing is scheduled for August 25.