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The return of the Pharaoh and his sons

By the time you read this, disgraced President Hosni Mubarak will be well on the way to being a free man, making a mockery once again of what passes for justice in Egypt these days. Mubarak's brutal dictatorship ended abruptly when he was overthrown in the January 2011 Revolution and then arrested on corruption charges. Later, and more importantly, he faced murder trials for ordering the deaths of hundreds of innocent protesters who rose up to end his 30-year tyranny.

Since then he has gone through a series of trials in which justice for his victims was never going to be delivered. While he showed no mercy to those incarcerated in Cairo's dungeons when he was president, Mubarak himself was treated with kid gloves. Unlike Egypt's only democratically-elected President, Mohamed Morsi, and thousands of other Muslim Brotherhood members who are being starved and tortured in prison as I write, Mubarak's life behind bars has been cosy.

There was no cold, dark, cramped cell for the man nicknamed the Pharaoh. He served most of his sentence being waited on hand and foot in a hospital bed. The former air force commander is now in his late 80s and is expected to be released from a military hospital this week. According to his lawyer, Farid El Deeb, from there Mubarak will be chauffeur-driven to his luxurious home in Heliopolis.

Read: Hosni Mubarak to be released this week

The former president was cleared of murder this month in his final trial, having faced various charges ranging from corruption to ordering the killings of 239 protesters during the revolution which toppled him. Although there was still one more jail sentence to serve, the prosecution subtracted the time served in the murder case from the time he was meant to serve for a separate case in which he was found guilty of stealing funds reserved for maintaining presidential palaces.

Mubarak was originally sentenced to life in prison in 2012 for conspiring to murder demonstrators during the 18-day Egyptian Revolution which had promised to deliver democracy and social justice to the Egyptian people. Ever since then, Mubarak has been in and out of appeal courts proving to be as slippery behind bars as he was in public office. An appeal by the public prosecution led to a final retrial by the Court of Cassation, the highest in the country, which acquitted him on 2 March.

While it is unlikely that the former dictator will have ambitions to rule again, his sons Gamal and Alaa Mubarak — who amassed multi-million dollar fortunes from buying and selling Egyptian debt through offshore accounts — are raising their own profiles in the country. Both were also tried and later released for embezzling millions of dollars of state funds. Rumours abound that far from being over, the Mubarak dynasty could be back in business with a possible presidential bid in 2018 against the current military-backed dictator President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.

Read: Mubarak, Merkel and Al-Sisi

The Egypt of today, it seems, suffers from political amnesia as well as nostalgia. Although, according to the law, the Mubaraks are not allowed to hold office or any political position for six years, in a country where respect for the law counts for as little as justice does, anything is possible. At the very least, power will either remain with the man who led a military coup against President Morsi or the Mubarak Dynasty will return and normal service will be resumed. It is a disgraceful state of affairs, but it looks as if we are about to witness the return of the Pharaoh and his sons.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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AfricaArticleEgyptOpinion
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