International

Egypt judge orders Mubarak's release

Prosecution has 48 hours to file, but appeal deemed unlikely

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak waves to his supporters inside a cage in a courtroom in Cairo, in this file picture taken April 13, 2013.

An Egyptian court has ordered the release of the country's former President Hosni Mubarak, who ruled the country for 30 years, pending investigations on corruption charges.

The general prosecutor has at least 48 hours to appeal the judge's order. If an appeal is made, the process can take up to 30 days, during which time Mubarak would remain in prison. A source told Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh that the prosecution will not appeal.

Mubarak has already served the maximum two years in pretrial detention. If the case is brought to trial, the judge has the authority to remand him.

PHOTOS: Egypt's violent summer

The corruption charges implicate Mubarak, his family and state officials who allegedly received gifts from board directors of the state-owned Al-Ahram newspaper equivalent to more than $11 million (78 million Egyptian pounds). Mubarak allegedly repaid the value of the gifts, raising the possibility that the charges will be dropped.

Mubarak resigned the presidency in 2011 after massive nationwide protests demanded he step down. 

If the former strongman walks free, it will likely fuel further unrest roiling the country after Mubarak's successor President Mohamed Morsi was removed in a military coup last month.

Michael Hanna of the Century Foundation told Al Jazeera that Mubarak's release would have "symbolic impact." However, "its impact in terms of stability and instability is going to be pretty modest" considering Egypt's conflict between the military and the Muslim Brotherhood, Hanna said. 

Mubarak, 85, has been held since April 2011. He is still facing retrial in connection with charges of killing protesters during the 2011 revolution. He was sentenced to life in prison in 2012, but a retrial was ordered earlier this year.

Defense attorneys argued that the case against him was weak, something even the first presiding judge, Ahmed Refaat, acknowledged in his verdict: He said there was no direct evidence that Mubarak ordered the killings, but found him guilty of failing to stop the violence.

His next court hearing is scheduled for Aug. 25.

If Mubarak is freed later this week, it would come only seven weeks after the armed forces that he once commanded deposed his freely elected successor, the Muslim Brotherhood's Morsi.

Morsi remains in custody since the army toppled him on July 3, but his supporters have held protests calling for his reinstatement.

As news broke that the former president is set to be released from prison, Egypt's interim Prime Minister Hazem el-Beblawi announced the appointment of Mubarak's former Prime Minister Boutros Ghaly as honorary head of the country's National Council for Human Rights.

Beblawi, speaking on state TV, said that participation in the political process will be provided for all, as long as they abide by the government's roadmap and the law and reject violence -- excluding those the government accuses of instigating violence.

Ehab Zahriyeh contributed to this report. Al Jazeera and wire services

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