Mubarak sentenced to life in prison

(CBS News) CAIRO - In the words of the Cairo judge who sentenced him, former President Hosni Mubarak's rule represented "the blackness of a chilly winter's night." It was last year's Arab Spring that ended the chilly Mubarak winter. But for the opposition, his conviction Saturday was only a partial victory.

Reclining on a hospital bed, Hosni Mubarak remained silent, seemingly indifferent to the life sentence that was handed down on him.

The first-ever judgment of an Arab leader sitting before his own people in their own court was terse.

Reaction to Mubarak sentence: Anger, clashes

On charges of complicity in the killing of protesters: Mubarak and his former interior minister -- guilty; six senior security officers -- not guilty.

On charges of corruption: Dismissed against Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa.

The decision sparked chaos in the courtroom as Mubarak's supporters fought with prosecutors, who shouted demands that the judicial system be "cleansed."

Outside the courtroom, hundreds gathered under heavy security initially went wild with joy.

The judge had ruled that even though there was no evidence Mubarak had directly ordered police to shoot protesters, he and his interior minister were guilty because they had done nothing to stop the killing.

But the acquittal of the security officers was greeted as dangerous.

Khalid Fahmi has been part of the revolution from day one. "This verdict is basically acquitting the police officers, basically sending them a message that they can do whatever they want to do with impunity," he said.

Summing up 60,000 pages of evidence and 250 hours of trial proceedings, the judge called Mubarak's 29-year rule "dark days." He said those who died to overthrow it "were asking peacefully for freedom and justice against those who lived in corruption."

The irony of dismissing the corruption charges was not lost on the protesters, who once again took over Tahrir Square.

Mubarak was flown from the courthouse to a military prison hospital and reportedly refused to get out of the helicopter for two hours. He was eventually admitted suffering from what was described as a health crisis, possibly a heart attack -- something from which few of those in the square are likely wishing him a speedy recovery.

As for what the protesters in the square want, some of them would like to see Mubarak sentenced to death, but they all want to see those six senior security officers put back on trial and convicted because they were the ones who actually controlled the firing on the protesters. And the people in the square say they want them back on trial and convicted so they get justice for what they call the martyrs of the revolution.

  • Allen Pizzey

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