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Egypt's ex-president detained for investigation

By Sarah El Deeb

Associated Press

Published: Wednesday, April 13 2011 3:10 a.m. MDT

Onlookers are seen in front of the Sharm el Sheikh International Hospital, Tuesday, April 12, 2011, where former President Hosni Mubarak is hospitalized. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was abruptly hospitalized Tuesday at a Red Sea resort for heart problems during an investigation into allegations of corruption and the violence against protesters, reported state TV.(AP Photo)

The Associated Press

CAIRO — Egypt's prosecutor general announced Wednesday the 15-day detention of the country's former president pending inquiries into accusations of corruption, abuse of authority and the killings of protesters, in an unprecedented investigation of a former ruler in the Arab world.

The announcement was the latest in a dramatic series of events surrounding the probes against top former regime officials, and came just hours after former President Hosni Mubarak, 82, was hospitalized with heart problems in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

Since Mubarak's ouster on Feb. 11 on a wave of popular protests, Egyptians have been calling for the investigation of their longtime ruler along with that of many members of his government.

A statement from the prosecutor general's office announcing Mubarak's detention was posted on the social networking site Facebook early Wednesday. It said the ongoing investigation was into allegations of assaults, killings and injury of protesters, corruption, squandering of public funds, and the abuse of authority for personal gain.

Just hours earlier, a separate announcement said the ex-president's two sons were being questioned and detained. It is believed Mubarak will remain in the hospital during his detention.

"The prosecutor general orders the detention of former President Hosni Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa for 15 days pending investigation," read the statement. The Facebook page was set up as an outreach from the Justice Ministry to the families of those killed and injured during the 18 days of protests that ousted Mubarak in mid-February.

Most of the top officials of Mubarak's regime are now being investigated on allegations of corruption and abuse of authority. Although Saddam Hussein and his close aides were prosecuted and many of them hanged after the U.S.-led invasion, legal moves against an ousted leader without any foreign role in the proceeding has been unheard of in modern times.

Mubaraks' probe is also seen as a way to help amend weeks of souring relations between the protest movement the Egyptian military, which took control after Mubarak was toppled. The protesters say the investigations are slow, and are outweighed by rights abuses by the new rulers.

They have also criticized the army for being too close to the old regime and not swiftly bringing Mubarak to trial while hundreds of protesters remain in military detention following a demonstration last month and others received swift trials before military courts.

Wael Ghoneim, one of the activists who organized the uprising against Mubarak, which started Jan. 25, commented on Mubarak's detention with a tweet: "Justice in action once again."

While the ex-president was taken to the hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh, where he has been living since being removed from power, his sons were taken for questioning to the nearby courthouse by prosecutors from Cairo.

An angry crowd of 2,000 people had gathered outside the hospital late Tuesday, demanding the sons' arrest. Then, in the early hours Wednesday, head of provincial security in the South Sinai told the crowd that Gamal and his businessman brother Alaa would be detained.

"Brothers, whatever you wanted, you have got ... 15 days," said Maj. Gen. Mohammed el-Khatib, as the crowd erupted in cheers.

As a police van with drawn curtains took away the brothers, the crowd pelted it with water bottles, stones and their flip-flops, a sign of disrespect in the Arab world.

Later, an airport official at the Sharm el-Sheik airport said the sons have been transferred aboard a private jet to the Torah prison on the outskirts of Cairo. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

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