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After Mubarak conviction anger and political maneuvers

Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's conviction led to large protests by Egyptians worried it will be overturned on appeal, and the Muslim Brotherhood positioning itself to win the presidency.

By Correspondent / June 3, 2012

Thousands of Egyptians protested in Tahrir Square, angry that former president Hosni Mubarak's life was spared for his role in killing protesters.

Mohamed Abd El Ghany/Reuters

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Cairo

Large protests erupted in Cairo and in cities around Egypt Saturday as Egyptians took to the streets, angry over the historic trial of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, his sons, and former security officials.

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Mr. Mubarak and Habib El Adly, his former interior minister, were sentenced to life in prison for complicity in the deaths of about 850 protesters who died during the uprising last year. But Mubarak and his two sons were acquitted on corruption charges, and six security officials also charged in the deaths of the protesters were acquitted. The judge cited lack of evidence as the reason, leaving the door wide open for an appeal and likely retrial for Mubarak and Mr. Adly.

Protesters focused their anger on the security chiefs’ exoneration, and likelihood of Mubarak and Adly’s acquittal. Because some of the security chiefs were in operational command of police forces that killed protesters, their acquittal was especially galling.

“Where is justice?” asked Nagwa Hassan, whose son Mohab Ali Hassan was shot by police during the uprising. She sat outside the compound where the trial was held, clothed in black and holding a framed picture of her son. “The ones who killed my son were judged innocent. And Mubarak’s verdict will be appealed and he will be declared innocent too. There’s no justice – this is just politics.”

The shoddy case prepared by the prosecutors highlights the lack of institutional change after the uprising in Egypt, where the president fell but his regime remained intact. The case was investigated and prosecuted by officials who had been part of his regime, and exonerated officials from a police force that has continued to kill protesters over the last year.

Many of the thousands of protesters who filled Tahrir square in Cairo Saturday night suspected the trial was simply a show put on by Egypt’s military rulers, who took over after Mubarak’s ouster and have preserved the status quo. The verdict could also affect the outcome of Egypt’s presidential race, with a runoff election just weeks away.

The Muslim Brotherhood, an Islamist movement that is the most organized political force in Egypt, sought to take advantage of the anger by harnessing it in support of the group’s presidential candidate, Mohamed Morsi. Dr. Morsi won the most votes in the first round of Egypt’s first presidential race since the fall of Mubarak, and will face Ahmed Shafiq in the runoff. Mr. Shafiq, the last prime minister under Mubarak, won about 24 percent of the vote but has sparked ardent opposition for his close association with the former president. The Brotherhood is hoping those angered by the verdict, and the prospect that the old regime could get off the hook for its crimes, will back Morsi, who has vowed to see Mubarak punished.

Mass protests

The organization sent its members into the street as it announced its support for mass protests throughout Egypt yesterday. In a press conference Saturday evening, Morsi positioned himself as the candidate of the revolution. He slammed the verdict and said Egyptians must return to the street to keep the revolution alive against the old regime. After the press conference, he marched to Tahrir, where the group’s members and supporters greeted him with cheers.

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