CAIRO: Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for thirty years with an iron fist until he was overthrown in a violent uprising, has died aged 91.
Mubarak was overthrown in 2011 and he was the first leader to face trial after the Arab Spring uprisings that swept the region. He spent six years after facing trial in a litany of cases ranging from corruption to the killing of 239 protesters.
Mubarak was freed in 2017 after he was cleared of the final murder charges against him. His death comes just days after his two sons were acquitted of illicit share trading during the sale of a bank four years before the 2011 uprising that ended his 30-year autocratic rule.
Many Egyptians who lived through his presidency view it as a period of stagnation, autocracy and crony capitalism. They watched as the first images of the former air force commander were beamed live on television, showing him bed-bound in his courtroom cage.
The overthrow of Mubarak embodied the hopes of the Arab Spring uprisings that shook autocrats from Tunisia to the Gulf and briefly raised hopes of a new era of democracy and social justice.
In the years since then, authorities have crushed his enemies in the Muslim Brotherhood, killing hundreds and jailing thousands, while his allies regain influence.
Mubarak was initially arrested in April 2011, two months after leaving office, and had been held in prison and in military hospitals under heavy guard before his release in March 2017.
He was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for conspiring to murder 239 demonstrators during the revolt. An appeals court ordered a retrial that culminated in 2014 in the case against Mubarak and his senior officials being dropped.
He was freed in 2017 after being cleared of charges of ordering the killing protesters during the uprising.
Mubarak’s sons, Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, who were detained after the 2011 popular uprising, were sentenced to three years in jail in 2015, along with their father, after being separately convicted of diverting public funds and using the money to upgrade family properties. The brothers were acquitted on Saturday.
Another military man, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, stepped into Mubarak’s shoes in 2013 when he overthrew Mohamed Mursi, the Brotherhood official who won Egypt’s first free election after the uprising. A year later, Sisi won a presidential election in which the Muslim Brotherhood, now banned, could not participate.