Hosni Mubarak, Former Egyptian President, Detained For Investigation
CAIRO -- Egypt's prosecutor general announced Wednesday the 15-day detention of the country's former president, pending inquiries into accusations of corruption and abuse of authority in an unprecedented investigation of a former ruler in the Arab world.
The announcement was the latest in a dramatic series of events surrounding the probes against top former regime officials, and came just hours after former President Hosni Mubarak, 82, was hospitalized with heart problems in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.
Since Mubarak's ouster on Feb. 11 on a wave of popular protests, Egyptians have been calling for the investigation of their longtime ruler along with that of many members of his government.
A statement from the prosecutor general's office announcing Mubarak's detention was posted on the social networking site Facebook early Wednesday. It said the ongoing investigation was into was into allegations of corruption, the squandering of public funds, and the abuse of authority for personal gain.
"The prosecutor general orders the detention of former President Hosni Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa for 15 days pending investigation after the prosecutor general presented them with the current state of its ongoing investigations," it read.
Just hours earlier, a separate announcement said the ex-president's two sons were being questioned and detained. It is believed Mubarak will remain in the hospital for his detention.
Most of the top officials of Mubarak's regime are now being investigated on allegations of corruption and abuse of authority.
The Facebook page was set up as an outreach from the Justice Ministry to the families of those killed and injured during the 18 days of protests that ousted Mubarak in mid-February.
While the ex-president was in the hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has been living since being removed from power, his sons were taken for questioning to the nearby courthouse by prosecutors from Cairo.
Late Tuesday, an angry crowd of 2,000 people had gathered outside the hospital, demanding the sons be arrested. Then, in the early hours Wednesday, head of provincial security in the South Sinai told the crowd that Gamal and his businessman brother Alaa would be detained.
"Brothers, whatever you wanted, you have got ... 15 days," said Maj. Gen. Mohammed el-Khatib, as the crowd erupted in cheers.
As a police van with drawn curtains took away the two brothers, the crowd pelted it with water bottles, stones and their flip-flops, a sign of disrespect in the Arab world.
The increasing role of Gamal Mubarak in the government over the last decade and the belief that he might succeed his father helped galvanize Egypt's protest movement.
About 800 people are estimated to have been killed during the protests as police opened fire and cracked down on the crowds. Authorities are now investigating government officials for their role in ordering the violence.
Gamal is also seen as the architect of Egypt's privatization program and economic liberalization, which has brought in billions in foreign investment but has also widened the gap between rich and poor.
Many of his close associates were billionaires and held top positions in the ruling party and the government. There are allegations that they used their positions for personal gain.
Immediately after Mubarak's hospitalization and in a sign that his ailment might not be very serious, however, Justice Minister Mohammed el-Guindi said he was then questioned in his hospital suite for his role in the violence against protesters.
The investigation into corruption charges would be carried out later by the Justice Ministry's anti-corruption department, he added.
The protest movement that deposed Mubarak had long pushed for him to be brought to justice for what they say are decades of abuse.
The protesters had criticized the army, which took over the country after the president was pushed out, for being too close to the old regime and not swiftly bringing Mubarak to trial.
For four days protesters reoccupied parts of Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo and closed it off to traffic. Efforts by the army to evict them Saturday resulted in at least one death and dozens of injuries and raised tensions between the protesters and the country's military rulers.
The investigations into Mubarak's sons are expected to mollify the opposition.
On Sunday, Mubarak defended himself in a prerecorded message saying he had not abused his authority, and investigators were welcome to check over his assets.
It was his first address to the people in the two months since he stepped down. Shortly after, the prosecutor general issued a summons for Mubarak to appear for questioning.
Associated Press writers Paul Schemm in Cairo and Yasser Imam and Ashraf Sweilam in Sharm el-Sheikh contributed to this report.