By MATT BRADLEY
Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his former interior minister were sentenced to life in prison Saturday for their role in the killings of hundreds of anti-government protesters last year, making the former Egyptian strongman the first Arab leader overturned by the wave of protests in the region to be convicted by his own people.
In a crowded courtroom proceeding broadcast live on national television, Judge Ahmed Rifaat pronounced Mr. Mubarak and his former interior minister, Habib al Adli, guilty of accessory to murder and attempted murder of protesters. He acquitted six senior interior ministry officials who prosecutors had also accused of killing protesters.
The sentences for Messrs Mubarak and Adli, harsher than many expected, bring to a close a 10-month trial that has enthralled Egyptians. Coming in the midst of an unprecedented presidential election that pits a senior leader in the powerful Muslim Brotherhood against a stalwart member of Mr. Mubarak’s old regime, the ruling may satisfy an Egyptian public yearning for symbolic justice.
But for others it also furthered the impression that Egypt’s revolution has done little to reform or reshape the sprawling security apparatus and centralized bureaucracy under which generations of Egyptians have suffered.
Also during the proceeding, Mr. Mubarak and his two sons, Alaa and Gamal, were acquitted of corruption charges related to the controversial purchase of seaside villas on Egypt’s Red Sea Coast. Mr. Rifaat ruled that the accusations, which date to more than 10 years ago, had exceeded Egypt’s statute of limitations.
Both men will remain in prison to face charges of insider trading filed earlier this week.
The convictions, which likely will lead to years of appeals, surprised many legal experts and ordinary Egyptians. Prosecutors presented almost no direct evidence during the trial implicating Mr. Mubarak in the killing of the protestors. They spent far more time presenting evidence on the corruption charges that Mr. Mubarak was acquitted on.
Viewers in the massive courtroom, which was especially outfitted to handle the ousted leader’s trial, broke out into chants of “The people want the cleansing of the judiciary!,” after the verdict was read.