SHARM EL-SHEIKH, Egypt — Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was abruptly hospitalized Tuesday for heart problems during an investigation over allegations of corruption and violence against protesters, reported state TV.
In a sign that his ailment might not be very serious, however, Justice Minister Mohammed el-Guindi said the former president was now being questioned in the hospital.
The 82-year-old former president was deposed Feb. 11 after 18 days of popular protests and has been under house arrest in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh for the last two months. The public prosecutor announced Monday he was under investigation.
Dozens of demonstrators picketed the hospital, denouncing the president and carrying a sign reading "Here is the butcher." They scuffled with supporters of Mubarak amid a massive security presence.
El-Guindi said Mubarak was being investigated over his role in the violence against protesters during the uprising. The investigation into corruption charges would be carried later by the Justice Ministry's anti-corruption department.
An investigation of Mubarak's son, Gamal, is also underway in Sharm el-Sheikh, the minister said in comments carried by Egypt's state news agency. A security official at the hospital said both father and son were questioned in the hospital suite.
Deciding on the site for the interrogation was a dilemma for the authorities who wanted to grant the ailing president a degree of privacy and security.
Two security officials said Mubarak arrived under heavy police protection to the main hospital and, according to two doctors in the hospital, he stepped out of his armored Mercedes unaided and was taken to the presidential suite in the pyramid-shaped building.
The officials and doctors spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
The protest movement that deposed Mubarak is now pushing for him to be brought to justice for what they say are decades of abuse and since Friday, hundreds have reoccupied parts of Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo.
The protesters had criticized the army for being too close to the old regime and not swiftly bringing Mubarak to trial.
On Tuesday, however, a scuffle broke out when some residents tried to break up the four-day sit-in, removing barbed-wire and barricades. The army then moved in and took control of the square and cordoned off the once grassy roundabout that had been the center of many demonstrations.
Sanaa Seif, a 17-year-old on the scene, said she saw the army forcibly remove people. Egypt's state news agency reported that the military police had detained a number of "outlaw thugs" at the square.
Mubarak has been suffering for a number of ailments and underwent gallbladder surgery in Germany in March last year.
He has kept a low profile since he was ousted, living on his compound in Sharm el-Sheikh. He was banned from traveling and his assets have been frozen. Many of his senior aides have already either been questioned or detained pending investigations.
Egypt's state TV reported that Safwat el-Sherif, a senior aide of Mubarak and one of the most powerful men in his regime, was ordered detained for an additional 15 days pending investigation into his role in attacks on protesters during the uprising.
El-Sherif had already been remanded into custody for 15 days pending corruption investigations.
On Sunday, Mubarak defended himself in a pre-recorded 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.