Victory for Egypt army rulers as Mubarak released from prison
Mubarak release could exacerbate political crisis in divided country
Egypt's former autocrat Hosni Mubarak was flown from jail yesterday in a symbolic victory for an army-dominated old order that has overthrown and imprisoned his elected Islamist successor.
A helicopter took Mubarak from Cairo's Tora prison, where scores of his supporters had gathered to hail his release. He was flown to a military hospital in the nearby southern suburb of Maadi, officials said.
Video: Egypt's Mubarak transferred from jail to house arrest
"He protected the country," said Lobna Mohamed, a housewife in the crowd of Mubarak well-wishers. "He is a good man, but we want [General Abdel-Fattah] el-Sisi now," she said, referring to the army commander who overthrew Islamist Mohammed Mursi on July 3.
For Mubarak's enemies, the moment marked a reversal of the January 2011 pro-democracy uprising that brought him down after three decades in power as one of the pillars of authoritarian rule in the Middle East.
But some Egyptians, many of whom have rallied behind the army's decision to depose Mursi, expressed fondness for the 85-year-old former air force commander whose tight grip on power brought stability.
Judicial authorities had ordered Mubarak's release from Tora. His lawyer and other sources said his first destination would be an upmarket hospital.
The prime minister's office has said Mubarak would be placed under house arrest.
That decision was made under a month-long state of emergency declared last week when police stormed protest camps set up in Cairo by deposed leader Mursi's Muslim Brotherhood to call for his reinstatement.
Mubarak's release dismayed some Egyptians.
"He should stay in prison. The country is facing obstacles so people are turning back to Mubarak. They don't know what they are doing," said Hoda Saleh, a woman who was leaving Tora, where her brother is an inmate.
To outsiders who watch Egypt, the symbolism was powerful.
"This is the end. Mubarak will never be an important political player, but symbolically, it's a victory dance by the reconstituted old state under the leadership of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces," said Joshua Stacher, an Egypt expert at Kent State University in the US.
Mubarak was jailed for life last year for failing to prevent the killing of demonstrators. But a court accepted his appeal earlier this year and ordered a retrial in the case, for which he has already served the maximum amount of pretrial detention. Mubarak was arrested in April, 2011.