CAIRO – Egypt’s former president, Hosni Mubarak, has been found guilty for his role in the killings of protesters during the uprising that forced his downfall. Mubarak’s much-hated interior minister was also found guilty, but other top security officials were acquitted.
The crowd outside the courthouse gathered around any screen they could find to see the historic moment unfold.
“Firstly, Mohammed Hosni al-Sayyid Mubarak is sentenced to life in prison for his role in the killing of protesters,” the judge announced.
The reaction was instant. Anti-Mubarak protesters embraced, fell to their knees in prayer, and wept. The sound of fireworks echoed through the crowd.
For some, it was a moment of celebration, but also remembrance. Mohammed held a picture of his brother Bilal, killed during the first days of the uprising.
“Like all the martyrs, he went out to ask for bread, freedom and equality, but he got a bullet from – I don’t want to use a dirty word, but I’ll say it – one of the dogs of the deposed regime,” Mohammed said angrily.
Row after row of security forces secured the courthouse. On the far side, a handful of supporters of the man who led Egypt for nearly 30 years. They recalled a more stable nation before the revolution.
“Supposedly he wasted money. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. But look what happened after him – what Egypt has lost,” supporter Hamada Abbas declared.
Defenders of the 84-year-old ex-president got some good news. Mubarak and his sons Gamal and Alaa were acquitted of corruption charges. And while the former leader’s dreaded interior minister, Habib al-Adly, was also found guilty in the killings, other top security officials were cleared.
It reminded some of the revolution itself: the leaders fell, but the next tier remained.
The verdicts resounded through a nation divided over its next president: Islamist Mohamed Morsi, or Ahmed Shafiq, Mubarak’s last prime minister.
But whatever lies ahead, for these Egyptians, this was a brief moment to savor.