Egypt: Protesters return to Tahrir Square

Following the sentencing of former president Hosni Mubarak, Egyptians have once again taken to Tahrir Square in protest over the acquittals of other key security officials.

Egyptian protesters in Tahrir Square during 2011’s uprising (Picture: Hossam el-Hamalawy)

Protest and unrest has returned to Cairo following last week’s judicial verdicts, which saw former president Hosni Mubarak sentenced to life imprisonment for his complicity in the killings of protesters during last year’s uprising against his reign.

Also receiving a life sentence was Interior Minister Habib al-Adly, but it is the acquittals of four senior Interior Ministry officials which has sparked anger and outrage in Egypt’s capital.

Mubarak’s sentence was initally met with celebrations by members of the public, but the joy was short lived as news of the other acquittals filtered through to the gathering crowds, who had amassed to learn the fate of their former president.

The four Interior Ministry officials – Abd El Rahman; Adli Fayed; Ahmed Ramzy; and Ismail al-Shaer – were acquitted of all charges, including complicity to murder, instigation and providing assistance in the murder and the attempted murder of protesters during the uprising.

A spokesman for the Muslim Brotherhood condemned the aqcuittals, saying the prosecution had failed to gather “adequate evidence to convict the accused.”

In the wake of the decision, which some demonstrators have labelled a “cover up”, Egypt’s state prosecutor has launched an appeal against the verdict.

Even before news broke of Mubarak’s sentence, tensions had already been rising in Cairo. Amid the first state elections since the uprising, violence has broken out on the streets of Cairo, with hundreds of rival protesters killed or injured.

Following the first round of elections at the end of May, the second round will be contested by two polarising candidates; Mubarak’s former Prime Minister, Ahmed Shafik, and Muslim Brotherhood candidate, Mohamed Morsi.  The second round of voting will take place in mid-June, and the winner will become Egypt’s first freely elected president.

Mubarak, meanwhile, will be transferred to Tora prison, where he will begin to serve his sentence. The former president is believed to have been in ill health, and has allegedly been admitted to the prison’s hospital wing.

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