World News : Former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak could be freed from jail after a court reviews his case on Wednesday, potentially stirring more unrest in a country where army-backed authorities are hunting down his Muslim Brotherhood foes.
The court will convene at the Cairo prison where Mubarak is being held, judicial sources said, and review a petition from his lawyer demanding the leader overthrown in a 2011 revolt be freed.
If the court upholds the petition, there would remain no legal grounds for Mubarak’s detention, though he is being retried on charges of complicity in the killing of protesters in 2011.
At 85, Mubarak may have no political future, but his release could stir emotions and raise new questions on whether the popular uprising that ended his 30-year rule is leading back to a new form of military government. His ouster was part of the Arab Spring uprisings that swept through the Arab world in 2011.
If Mubarak is freed this week, as his lawyer predicts, it would come only six weeks after the armed forces that he once commanded deposed his freely elected successor, the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi.
Egypt is enduring the bloodiest internal conflict in its modern history, with about 900 people, including 100 police and soldiers, killed after security forces broke up pro-Mursi protest camps in the capital on August 14. A spokesman for a pro-Brotherhood alliance put the death toll among its followers at about 1,400.
Signalling their determination to crush the group and silence protests against the ousting of Mursi, Egypt’s army-backed authorities on Tuesday arrested Mohamed Badie, the Brotherhood’s leader.
His arrest followed a wave of detentions among the upper echelons of the organisation. A Muslim Brotherhood statement condemned the arrest of Badie, 70.
“The putschists think that arresting the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and marring their image in the media will make Egyptians bow and give in to the coup,” it said.
“The issue has become one of the Egyptian people and they will not bow. … They have killed thousands, wounded thousands, arrested thousands but the (people) are continuing in their peaceful revolution and rejecting the coup and military rule.” Agencies