The office of Egypt’s public prosecutor said Tuesday it will appeal a court decision to drop a murder charge against ex-president Hosni Mubarak over the deaths of protesters during the 2011 uprising.
“The prosecutor general has decided to appeal,” a statement said, after a Cairo court Saturday ordered murder and corruption charges against Mubarak — forced to resign after three decades in power — to be dropped.
“The ruling was marred by a legal flaw,” the statement said, adding the decision to appeal was “not influenced by disputes among political groups”.
Mubarak is serving a three-year sentence in a separate graft case.
Seven of Mubarak’s security commanders, including feared ex-interior minister Habib al-Adly, were acquitted Saturday over the deaths of roughly 800 protesters during the 2011 revolt.
The Court of Cassation, the country’s highest tribunal, can now either confirm Saturday’s ruling or decide to cancel it, in which case it would consider the case itself.
An appeals court had previously overturned a life sentence for Mubarak in 2012 on a technicality, ordering the retrial that saw the charges dropped.
Mubarak’s lawyer has said the 86-year-old could now see an early release from the military hospital where he is being held. He has already served two-thirds of his sentence if time held in preliminary detention since his arrest in 2011 is taken into account.
After Saturday’s verdict, more than 1,000 protesters gathered at an entrance to Cairo’s Tahrir Square — the epicentre of the anti-Mubarak revolt — chanting slogans against the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.
Resulting clashes left two people dead and several wounded. In remarks Tuesday, Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab denounced “those… who want to demolish the state and issue calls to demonstrate and occupy certain places, which is totally unacceptable.”
The court’s ruling has come under fire from Mubarak opponents, critics and some leftist leaders, and sparked accusations that the authorities are interfering with the courts.
The government has denied any involvement, and Sisi ordered Sunday a review of the criminal code to prevent any legal irregularities.
In his first comment on the verdict, Sisi, Mubarak’s intelligence chief, said Egypt was charting a new course.
“The new Egypt… is on a path to establish a modern democratic state based on justice, freedom, equality and a renunciation of corruption,” he said.
The United States, a key donor of military aid to Cairo, has so far demurred from making any specific comment on the decision to drop the charges against the ousted Egyptian leader.
“We will see how this appeal process plays out,” deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf told reporters, adding only that “we will continue to follow developments in this trial.”
Last year, the Egyptian military overthrew Mubarak’s Islamist successor, Mohamed Morsi, following mass protests. A government crackdown targeting Morsi’s supporters has since left at least 1,400 people dead and thousands imprisoned.
Dozens of Morsi supporters have also been sentenced to death or lengthy jail terms after speedy mass trials, which the United Nations says is “unprecedented” in recent history. Critics accuse Sisi of being even more authoritarian than Mubarak by stifling dissent and counting on the support of a public exhausted by years of instability.
They say the judiciary, which includes many judges hostile to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood, has become one of the government’s main instruments of quashing dissent. SAPA