An Egyptian court dropped all remaining charges against former President Hosni Mubarak on Saturday, raising the possibility that Mubarak, whose overthrow came to symbolize the promise of the so-called Arab Spring, could go free once again following his removal from office in 2011.
The 86-year-old former leader, who has been held at a military hospital and appeared in court on a stretcher, was cleared of conspiring to murder 239 protesters in the 2011 18-day uprising that ended when Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11. In all, more than 900 died during the uprising.
Mubarak was also acquitted of corruption charges over a statute of limitations in which he was accused of selling natural gas to Israel at below-market prices, as well as what amounted to bribery charges for allegations that he and his sons were given vacation homes on the Red Sea as kickbacks for a real estate deal. Several senior Mubarak-era officials were acquitted at the same time, as were Mubarak’s two sons, Alaa and Gamal.
Judge Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi, who led a panel of three judges, did not elaborate on the decision. Instead, he directed individuals to read a 240-page summary of their 1,340-page explanation of the case. "To rule for or against him after he has become old will be left to history and the Judge of Judges, the Righteous and the Justice (God) who will question him about his rule," said al-Rashidi.
It remains unclear as to whether or not Mubarak will be set free. In May, he was sentenced to three years in prison for separate corruption charges in which he and his sons received improvements to their homes using government funds. Mubarak has been held for more than three years by the state on various charges and has served the requisite amount of time, which could justify his release. The prosecutor also has the right to appeal Saturday's decision.
Mubarak, who was reached by telephone by a television interviewer and asked whether he had ordered the killing of protesters, said, "I did not do anything at all."