An Egyptian court on Saturday dismissed murder charges against former President Hosni Mubarak in connection with the killing of hundreds of protesters in the 2011 uprising that ended his nearly three-decade rule, citing the "inadmissibility" of the case due to a technicality.
The court further cleared Mubarak and a former oil minister of graft charges related to gas exports to Israel.
In a separate corruption case, charges were dropped against Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal, with Judge Mahmoud Kamel al-Rashidi saying too much time had elapsed since the alleged crime took place for the court to rule on the matter.
Saturday's verdict concludes Mubarak's retrial along with his two sons, his security chief and six top security commanders, who were all acquitted. Also acquitted was businessman Hussein Salem, a longtime Mubarak friend tried in absentia.
All rulings can be appealed.
It was not immediately clear whether Mubarak would now walk free since he is serving a three-year jail term for corruption charges he was convicted of in May. He has been in detention since April 2011, but it is unclear if the past 3 1/2 years will be considered as time served.
Nearly 900 protesters were killed in the 18-day uprising that ended when Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11, handing over power to the military. The trial, however, was concerned only with the killing of 239 protesters, whose names were cited in the charges sheet.
Mubarak was convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2012 on charges related to the killing of protesters, but the verdict was overturned on appeal the following year.
Judge al-Rashidi said that those injured in the protests and the families of those who died should be compensated. He also said that the court had ruled according to the evidence placed before it and that Mubarak would be judged by history and by God.
The judgment was greeted by cries of joy by Mubarak supporters in the courtroom. The former president, his sons and the other defendants smiled broadly and Mubarak waved to his supporters.
While Mubarak's supporters called for celebrations, the Egyptian army was deployed in all Cairo's main squares, including Tahrir Square, to prevent clashes between supporters and opponents of the former president.
Outraged by the judgment, the families of the dead protesters gathered in an unruly crowd in a large open area opposite the court, which was held in the police academy in Cairo's Fifth District.
Ahmed Abed Aljuwad, one of the lawyers for the families and chairman of the Egyptian Bar Association, described the judgment as "difficult" and said it would have political repercussions in Egypt because it meant that no one had been found responsible for the deaths of hundreds of protesters and the wounding of thousands.
He predicted that the state prosecutor would appeal the verdict and that the families would launch civil claims.
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