By Kevin Bogardus - 06/02/12 04:30 PM EDT
Mubarak received the life sentence for the killing of protesters during last year’s uprising that led to him being overthrown, according to several press reports. But he and his two sons were acquitted on separate corruption charges.
Those acquittals, along with other senior officials from the Mubarak regime being cleared, led to a new wave of protests on Saturday. The former Egyptian leader was reported to have had a “health crisis” when he was transferred from the courthouse to Tora prison, according to the BBC.
“These convictions set an important precedent since just over a year ago seeing Hosni Mubarak as a defendant in a criminal court would have been unthinkable,” said Joe Stork, Human Rights Watch’s deputy Middle East director. “But the acquittal of senior ministry of interior officials for the deaths and injuries of peaceful protesters leaves police impunity intact and the victims still waiting for justice.”
Mubarak was toppled by street protests in Cairo and elsewhere last year as demonstrations have spread throughout the Middle East. The human rights group noted that this was the first trial of a former Arab head of state in which the defendant has personally appeared since the Arab Spring took hold last year.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Mubarak’s fate was to be decided by the Egyptian people.
“That is up to the Egyptian people and their judicial system and their government,” Clinton told reporters during a visit to Tromsoe, Norway, according to an Agence France-Presse report.