Egypt’s ex-President Hosni Mubarak should no longer be held over the killings of protesters during the revolution that toppled him, a Cairo court has ruled today.
However, Hosni Mubarak will remain in custody as he faces separate corruption charges.
Hosni Mubarak, 84, is awaiting a retrial for conspiring to kill protesters in early 2011.
The former leader’s lawyer successfully argued that he had spent the maximum time in prison under temporary detention.
In June 2012, Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for killings committed during the 2011 uprising that ended his decades-long rule, but in January a retrial was ordered because of procedural failings.
Cairo court ruled that Hosni Mubarak should no longer be held over the killings of protesters during the revolution that toppled him
There were chaotic scenes on Saturday as the judge presiding over the retrial, Mustafa Hassan Abdullah, withdrew from the case citing his “unease” in overseeing the proceedings.
The case has been referred to a different court, which is expected to appoint a new panel to hear the retrial.
About 850 people were killed in the 2011 crackdown during the 2011 uprising that ended Hosni Mubarak’s rule.
Hosni Mubarak and former interior minister Habib al-Adly were sentenced to life in prison for conspiring to kill protesters.
But both will be re-tried after they successfully appealed against their convictions, with Egypt’s Court of Cassation citing procedural failings.
Habib al-Adly will also be re-tried for corruption charges.
Hosni Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, will also be re-tried for corruption charges, of which they were found not guilty the first time round.
Egypt’s former president has been in poor health since his arrest and appeared on a stretcher during his first trial and at Saturday’s hearing.
Deaths during the uprising were largely blamed on the police at the time, but last week a report was leaked which implicated the army in serious human rights abuses, including the killing and torture of protesters.
The leaked chapter, reportedly presented to President Mohamed Morsi late last year, contains testimony relating to civilians detained at military checkpoints who were never seen again and reports that the army delivered unidentified bodies to coroners.
Egypt’s Defence Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sissi denied the accusations, calling them a betrayal.
More than 60% of voters backed the new Egypt’s constitution in a referendum, although only a third of the electorate voted.
Critics say the new constitution favors Islamists and betrays the revolution.
President Hosni Mubarak was ousted from power in February 2011 after nearly 30 years of authoritarian rule.
After the referendum result was announced on Tuesday, dozens of anti-constitution protesters blocked one of the main bridges in the capital Cairo, setting tyres alight and stopping traffic.
Parliamentary elections must now take place within two months.
The political divisions surrounding the referendum have led to economic uncertainty and a reported rush to buy US dollars.
Currency exchanges in parts of Cairo were said to have run out of dollars. Before the result was announced, the authorities declared a limit of $10,000 for travelers into and out of Egypt.
On Monday, Egypt’s central bank issued a statement saying that the banks had “stable liquidity” to safeguard all deposits.
President Mohamed Morsi’s government will soon have to take some unpopular measures to prop up the economy, which could hurt his party at the ballot box.
On Tuesday, Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Badie welcomed the referendum’s results, tweeting: “Congratulations to the Egyptian people on approving the constitution of revolutionary Egypt.”
Echoing his words, Prime Minister Hisham Qandil stressed that there was “no loser” in the vote and called for co-operation with the government to restore the economy.
More than 60 percent of voters backed the new Egypt’s constitution in a referendum, although only a third of the electorate voted
President Mohamed Morsi’s mainly Islamist supporters say that the new constitution will secure democracy and encourage stability.
But opponents accuse the president, who belongs to the Brotherhood, of pushing through a text that favors Islamists and does not sufficiently protect the rights of women or Christians, who make up about 10% of the population.
The US state department responded to the vote by urging all sides in Egypt to commit themselves “to engage in an inclusive process to negotiate their differences”.
In a direct appeal to President Mohamed Morsi, spokesman Patrick Ventrell said that as democratically elected leader he had a “special responsibility… to bridge divisions, build trust and broaden support for the political process”.
Turnout was 32.9% of Egypt’s total of 52 million voters, election commission President Samir Abul Maati told a news conference in Cairo.
Samir Abul Maati rejected opposition allegations that fake judges supervised some of the polling – one of several complaints relating to voting fraud made by the opposition National Salvation Front after each stage of voting.
Egypt has recently seen large demonstrations by both critics and supporters of the constitution, which have occasionally turned violent.
Before the first round of voting on December 15, the opposition considered boycotting the referendum before deciding to back a No vote.
Polling had to be held on two days because of a lack of judges prepared to supervise the process.
Egypt referendum result:
Votes for constitution 10,693,911 (63.8%)
Votes against 6,061,101 (36.2%)
Turnout 32.9% (17,058,317 votes including 303,395 declared invalid)
Tens of thousands of people are holding a protest in Cairo against President Mohamed Morsi, who last week granted himself sweeping new powers in Egypt.
Flag-waving demonstrators are chanting slogans accusing the president and the Muslim Brotherhood of betraying last year’s revolution.
On Monday Mohamed Morsi sought to defuse the crisis by saying the decree granting him new powers was limited in scope.
However, his opponents want him to withdraw the measure completely.
Ahead of Tuesday’s rally, opposition activists clashed with police. A protester, who was in his fifties, died of a heart attack after inhaling tear gas.
Activists later converged on Tahrir Square – the main focus of the revolution that ousted President Hosni Mubarak – for one of the largest demonstrations to date against Mohamed Morsi.
“The people want to bring down the regime,” marchers chanted, echoing slogans used in last year’s protests.
“We don’t want a dictatorship again. The Mubarak regime was a dictatorship. We had a revolution to have justice and freedom,” protester Ahmed Husseini was quoted as saying by Reuters news agency.
Journalists, lawyers as well as opposition figures including Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mohammed ElBaradei were expected to join Tuesday’s rally.
Protests are also being held in Alexandria and other cities.
The president’s decree, known as the constitutional declaration, said no authority could revoke his decisions.
There is a bar on judges dissolving the assembly drawing up a new constitution. The president is also authorized to take any measures to preserve the revolution, national unity or safeguard national security.
Critics say the decree is an attack on the judiciary. It has sparked violent protests across the country.
On Monday Mohamed Morsi told senior judges that the scope of the measure would be restricted to “sovereign matters”, designed to protect institutions.
The Muslim Brotherhood, which supports President Mohamed Morsi, said it was postponing its own demonstration, originally due on Tuesday, to avoid “public tension”.
The postponement is another sign that the government wants to defuse confrontation, but it remains to be seen whether it ends the days of angry and sometimes violent protests.
Egypt’s union of judges, known as the Judges Club, rejected the president’s statement, calling it “worthless” and said they would continue to suspend work in courts.
Egypt’s top judges have accused President Mohammed Mursi of staging an “unprecedented attack” on the judiciary.
Mohammed Mursi passed a decree earlier this week granting himself extensive new powers.
It includes a bar on any court dissolving the constituent assembly, which is drawing up a new constitution.
Thursday’s decree has sparked angry demonstrations, with attacks on offices of Mohammed Mursi’s Muslim Brotherhood party.
The president has said he is acting to protect the revolution.
In a statement, the Supreme Judicial Council called on Mohammed Mursi to “this decree from everything that violates the judicial authority,” Mena state news agency reported.
There had been reports that the council was about to disband the constituent assembly for a second time.
Egypt’s top judges have accused President Mohammed Mursi of staging an unprecedented attack on the judiciary
That could seriously derail the transition to democracy, says our correspondent, further delaying new parliamentary elections, which could deter Egypt’s political leaders from taking tough decisions while they wait for the vote.
Mohammed Mursi also sacked his prosecutor general on Thursday and gave himself the sole power to appoint a new one.
His replacement moved quickly to reopen criminal investigations into ousted President Hosni Mubarak, his family, and former regime officials.
It is likely to be a popular move, as although Mubarak is serving a long jail term for ordering the killing of protesters during the 2011 uprising, many officials were acquitted, creating deep resentments.
The ruling also bans any challenging of the president’s decisions and laws.
Both critics and supporters of Mohammed Mursi have staged rallies since the decree. Overnight, crowds gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir Square, vowing to stage a sit-in.
A large opposition rally is also planned for Tuesday.
The US said earlier that Mohammed Mursi’s move had raised concerns in the international community.
Barack Obama has said the United States does not currently consider Egypt to be an ally.
The president was speaking with reference to violent clashes at the US embassy in Cairo, over a US-made anti-Islamic film which has sparked anger among Muslims.
Barack Obama’s comments also came after the storming of the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya, which killed the US ambassador on Tuesday.
President Barack Obama referred to US-Egypt relations as a “work in progress”.
Barack Obama has said the United States does not currently consider Egypt to be an ally
“I don’t think we would consider them an ally, but we don’t consider them an enemy. They are a new government that is trying to find its way,” Barack Obama said in a television interview with Spanish-language network Telemundo.
He said that so far Egypt’s government has “said the right thing and taken the right steps” but it has also responded to other events in ways that “may not be aligned with our interests”.
Barack Obama also said that he expected Egypt to protect the US embassy and its staff.
“If they take actions that indicate they are not taking those responsibilities, as all other countries do where we have embassies, I think that’s going to be a problem,” he said.
Egypt was a close and vital Middle East ally of the United States while ousted President Hosni Mubarak was in power.
Cairo has been key US ally since 1979 Egypt-Israel peace deal, and the US gives more than $1 billion in military aid to Egypt every year.
After last year’s uprising and the resurgence of the once-banned Muslim Brotherhood, question marks have been raised over the future of the relationship.
Angry anti-US protests have taken place across the Middle East and North Africa.
The grounds of the US embassy in the Yemeni capital Sanaa were briefly stormed by protesters on Thursday.
On Wednesday, demonstrators in Cairo angry at the film – Innocence of Muslims – breached the walls of the US embassy and tore down the flag. The clashes, which began on Tuesday, continued in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Egypt’s interior ministry says 16 people were injured overnight – 13 of them members of the security forces. Two police vehicles were burnt out and 12 protesters were arrested.
President Mohamed Mursi has appealed for calm: “I call on everyone to take that into consideration, to not violate Egyptian law… to not assault embassies.”
“I condemn and oppose all who… insult our prophet. [But] it is our duty to protect our guests and visitors from abroad,” he said in a statement broadcast by state media.
In July US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met Mohamed Mursi for the first time and reaffirmed Washington’s “strong support” for the Egyptian people and their shift to civilian rule.
Egypt’s presidential poll results have been delayed by the election authorities, raising further tension across the country.
The results had been due to be announced on Thursday, but the election commission said it needed more time to look into complaints presented by the candidates.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Mursi and former PM Ahmed Shafiq both claim they won last weekend’s vote.
Thousands of opposition supporters are protesting in Cairo’s Tahrir Square.
They have gathered to demonstrate against the delay in announcing the poll result and also against the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) – the military council that has led the country since President Hosni Mubarak was ousted last year.
The Muslim Brotherhood called people into the square to voice their outrage over recent constitutional amendments which gave the SCAF sweeping political and legislative powers.
If the Muslim Brotherhood has won the election, there are doubts over whether the authorities would allow them to take power after fighting them for so many decades.
There is increasingly fevered speculation about whether the election will be cancelled or rigged, he adds.
Egypt's presidential poll results have been delayed by the election authorities, raising further tension across the country
Meanwhile, 84-year-old Hosni Mubarak remains in critical condition at an army hospital in Cairo.
He is said to have had a series of strokes and to be on a life-support machine, but there has been no official word on his condition.
Earlier this month, Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the death of protesters during last year’s revolution.
Correspondents say there are fears that Hosni Mubarak’s failing health could be used as a distraction as Egypt awaits the result of the hotly disputed election.
On Wednesday, the Higher Presidential Elections Commission (HPEC) said that some 400 election complaints had been filed by the two candidates.
The commission said it needed more time to investigate the complaints, without giving any new date for the announcement of the results.
However, media reports suggest that the poll winner could be declared over the weekend.
Nader Omran, a spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood, said the announcement should not have been delayed.
“It will bring more tension to the people – they should end the story tomorrow (Thursday),” he said.
Protests continued in Tahrir Square late into the night, with the Brotherhood saying they will mount a sit-in until the results are announced, and until the army gives up the sweeping powers it granted itself in a constitutional amendment last week.
Correspondents say Egypt appears to be in political and constitutional limbo.
In preliminary comments on the second round of the presidential election, a group of international election monitors headed by former US President Jimmy Carter voiced concerns about the “political and constitutional context” of the vote.
“I am deeply troubled by the undemocratic turn that Egypt’s transition has taken,” Jimmy Carter said.
On Saturday the SCAF had dissolved Egypt’s elected parliament – dominated by the Brotherhood – after a court ruling that last year’s legislative polls were unconstitutional.
Late on Sunday, hours after the polls closed in the presidential vote, the SCAF issued a constitutional declaration giving itself wide-ranging powers and limiting those of the incoming president.
The declaration effectively gave the SCAF legislative powers, control over the budget and over who writes the permanent constitution.
The SCAF’s moves were widely condemned by activists as amounting to a military coup.
Thousands of people are gathering in Cairo’s Tahrir Square to protest against a decision by the ruling military council to assume new powers.
The protests have been called by the Muslim Brotherhood, as it claims its candidate Mohammed Mursi won last weekend’s presidential election.
His rival, former PM Ahmed Shafiq, also says he has won.
As Egyptians voted, the generals dissolved parliament and claimed all legislative power for themselves.
Correspondents say the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) appears to be working on the assumption that Mohammed Mursi will win, and making moves designed to reduce or constrain the power of the president and entrench its own.
Activists have described the moves as a “military coup”.
Demonstrators have been chanting slogans against the military council, in the same square where huge protests last year led to the fall of President Hosni Mubarak.
Thousands of people are gathering in Cairo's Tahrir Square to protest against a decision by the ruling military council to assume new powers
Youth activists and liberals, many of whom refused to take part in the election run-off, are also involved in the protests.
“[The election is] not totally stolen, but they have put some obstacles to fully transfer the power of the revolution and the voice of the street, and the voice of the critical mass to rule the country,” said one protester.
There are plenty of Egyptians who seem to be reconciled to the prospect of the military continuing to exercise power because they fear that otherwise the Muslim Brotherhood might turn their secular society into something resembling the theocracy of Iran.
Earlier the Muslim Brotherhood claimed victory in the election.
A spokesman for its Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) announced its chairman, Mohammed Mursi, had received 51.74%, compared with former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafiq, who he said had 48.26%.
The Higher Presidential Election Commission (HPEC) is scheduled to announce the official results on Thursday, but it usually shares them with the candidates beforehand to give them a chance to make objections.
The results tally with what Egyptian media and independent observers have been reporting, and the FJP’s own calculations, which it released on Monday.
However, Ahmed Shafiq’s campaign vigorously denied its candidate had lost.
In a news conference shown on Egyptian television, representatives of Ahmed Shafiq’s campaign said the papers that Mohammed Mursi’s campaign referred to did not come officially from the HPEC, and insisted that Shafiq was ahead in the tally.
“We are willing to do whatever necessary at a legal level to prove he’s the next president,” Ahmed Shafiq campaign spokesman Karim Salem said.
Voting over the weekend to choose a successor to Hosni Mubarak, who was forced to step down by last year’s uprising, was overshadowed by two SCAF decrees.
The first ordered the immediate dissolution of parliament following Thursday’s Supreme Constitutional Court ruling that the law governing the recent elections for the lower house was unconstitutional because party members had been allowed to contest seats in the lower house reserved for independents.
Troops were deployed outside the parliament building before the decree was issued on Saturday to prevent MPs gaining access. The FJP and the ultraconservative Salafist Nour party dominate both chambers.
The second decree, which was published after the polls closed on Sunday, amended the March 2011 constitutional declaration and gave the generals complete control over legislation and military affairs until fresh parliamentary elections are held.
The SCAF will also play a significant role in running the 100-member assembly that will draft the country’s new constitution.
The new president – who will take office without the oversight of a parliament and without a permanent constitution to define his powers or duties – will be able to form and dismiss a government, ratify and reject laws, and declare war, but only with SCAF’s approval.