AP - Egypt's top appeals court on Tuesday ordered the retrial of deposed President Hosni Mubarak and his two sons in a corruption case, a move that could pave the way for the former autocrat's release during the new proceedings.
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The Appeals Court's verdict overturned an earlier verdict, which sentenced Mubarak to three years imprisonment and his sons, Alaa and Gamal, to four years each while four other defendants in the case were acquitted. Mubarak's lawyers appealed that ruling.
It's the only case keeping Mubarak behind bars.
The former president has been cleared in the case over the killings of protesters during Egypt's 2011 uprising that toppled him, after a judge ruled that the charges were "inadmissible" on a technicality. But the same judge also described the uprising — one of the firsts that swept the region in what later became known as the Arab Spring — as part of an all alleged "American-Hebrew conspiracy" to undermine Arab countries for Israel's benefit.
That ruling was a blow to the pro-democracy groups and youth groups that spearheaded the "revolution" against Mubarak.
Tuesday's decision could pave the way for Mubarak's release — once a new court convenes in the retrial. The tribunal can order Mubarak freed pending trial.
However, Mubarak's chief lawyer Farid el-Deeb told state-run Al Ahram newspaper that he believes that the ex-president was a free man as soon as Tuesday's decision was announced.
His legal interpretation could not immediately be verified.
The corruption case — dubbed by Egyptian media as the "presidential palaces" affair — is linked to charges that the three Mubaraks embezzled millions of dollars' worth of state funds over a decade toward the end of Mubarak's rule. The funds were meant for renovating and maintaining presidential palaces but were instead spent on upgrading the family's private residences.
Mubarak and his sons were also fined 21.1 million Egyptian pounds ($2.9 million) and ordered to reimburse 125 million Egyptian pounds ($17.6 million) to the state treasury.
The Mubaraks had returned around 120 million Egyptian pounds to the state in connection with this case in the hope that the charges would be dropped, but the proceedings against them continued anyway.