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Mubarak and sons' detention a victory for Egypt's opposition

Mubarak is under questioning and he and his two sons are being transferred to a Cairo prison. Egypt's military rulers appear to be responding to escalating public pressure to see the former president behind bars.

By Correspondent / April 13, 2011

Egyptian policemen guard on Wednesday, April 13, a convoy carrying former president's powerful sons Alaa and Gamal Mubarak, outside Sharm El Sheikh courthouse where they were questioned by prosecutors, in Egypt. Egyptian prosecutors ordered the detention of the former president's powerful sons as their role in violence against protesters and corruption allegations are investigated, said a police general.

Amr Nabil/AP

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Cairo

Egypt’s public prosecutor ordered former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons detained Wednesday for 15 days for corruption investigations, in what appeared to be a response by Egypt’s military rulers to escalating pressure from protesters to see their former ruler behind bars.

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Egyptian state television reported that Mr. Mubarak’s son Gamal, who just six months ago was widely seen as being groomed to take power, and his older brother Alaa were transferred to Cairo to be detained in Tora prison after the public prosecutor ordered them held as the investigation unfolds.

Mubarak himself was reportedly being interrogated in the Sharm El Sheikh hospital that admitted him Tuesday after he reportedly had a heart attack after questioning began at his residence. Local media reported that he would be transferred to a hospital in Cairo for the investigation.

IN PICTURES: Egyptian protests

While there is scattered sympathy for Mubarak, public anger far outweighs it. Last Friday, tens of thousands of Egyptians gathered in Tahrir Square to demand their former president, his family, and his cronies be put on trial for allegedly using state funds for personal gain.

Mubarak and his family have been under house arrest in the resort town of Sharm El Sheikh since he was forced from power by a popular uprising Feb 11. The thought of the former president staying in a luxury villa on the beach had infuriated many Egyptians. Recently, they had begun to direct that anger toward the military council ruling Egypt until new elections are held.

The head of the military council, Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, spent years as Mubarak's defense minister. Many accused the military Friday of shielding Mubarak from prosecution, and of giving him time to cover his tracks and hide bank accounts and assets. The sentiment at the protest was more directly and widely critical of the military, once seen as the protector of Egypt’s revolution, than it had ever been.

“This is a direct response to the protests,” says Mustapha Kamel al-Sayyid, political science professor at the American University in Cairo, of the detainment order. “There has been a sort of ultimatum. Unless the president was interrogated by Friday, there would be another escalation of protests.”

An audio recording broadcast Sunday on Saudi television station Al Arabiya, in which Mubarak denied having been involved in corruption or abusing his position for personal gain, only increased the popular anger. It was the first time Egyptians had heard from their former president since his ouster on Feb. 11.

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