Mubarak, Sons Detained By Egyptian Officials
MELISSA BLOCK, Host:
To Egypt now, where former president Hosni Mubarak remains in the hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, but he's also formally under detention for the next 15 days, and his two sons are in prison.
Mubarak collapsed during an investigation into allegations that he gave the orders to shoot protesters and stole public funds while in office.
NPR's Deborah Amos reports from Cairo that Egypt's military rulers appear to be responding to public pressure to put the former president and his sons on trial.
DEBORAH AMOS: Egypt state media, once tightly controlled by the Mubarak government, published a wave of details as Mubarak's two sons arrived at a Cairo prison early this morning.
The quoted sources - hospital staff, airport workers, prison employees - all seemed eager to describe the journey to the intake center at Torah prison.
Gamal Mubarak, the youngest son, was once considered likely to take over the presidency from his father, but according to these reports, he and his older brother were required to give up cell phones and wallets, change from exercise gear into prison jumpsuits, the procedure for any new inmate.
The prosecutor announced the arrests, the 15 days of detention on his Facebook page - unprecedented treatment for an Arab leader and his sons and the talk of Cairo today.
It was celebrated as a victory for the protest movement, says Sala Nagib(ph), a mechanical engineer.
SALA NAGIB: It will improve many things for the new generation; if not for us, for the new generation.
AMOS: The investigation, the surprising detentions appeared to be a turnaround for the ruling military council that took over running the country after Mubarak stepped down in February.
Protesters had accused the army of protecting the former president.
Elijah Zarwan in Cairo for the International Crisis Group says the military did seem to be reluctant to put Mubarak on trial.
ELIJAH ZARWAN: The military would like to see Mubarak retire with dignity. They really did not want to try Mubarak, but this became a - the central demand of the protesters, and one that revitalizes the protests.
AMOS: Last Friday, on Tahrir Square, the focus of the popular uprising, there was a mass rally again that brought together the coalitions that had unseated the president.
Mohammad Ihab(ph) said he came to send a message to the military council.
MOHAMMAD IHAB: Prosecution. Prosecution of the old regime. People want to see justice by - in order to be sure that the revolution is going on.
AMOS: Egypt's military council has presented itself as the caretaker of the revolution. The people and the army are one was a frequent chant the day Mubarak stepped down, but that unity has been strained over military trials for civilians, charges of torture in military prisons, and most recently over a violent crackdown on a small group of protesters who had refused to leave the square.
Elijah Zarwan says there was a larger issue: bringing corrupt former officials to justice.
Opening the investigation changed the mood today, says Zarwan, and Tahrir Square was filled with signs posted by the military that said the army and the people are one.
ZARWAN: So far, the effect on public opinion has been very good. People are celebrating the news. That may get more complicated as the trial progresses.
AMOS: Because, he says, a trial would put former president Hosni Mubarak back in the spotlight. Already, there had been clashes between pro- and anti-Mubarak supporters outside the hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh where the former president spent the night.
Deborah Amos, NPR News, Cairo.
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