CAIRO -- Egyptian officials denied reports Tuesday night that deposed President Hosni Mubarak was clinically dead after he suffered a stroke and slipped out of consciousness at a prison hospital in Cairo, according to state and independent news media.
Conflicting reports about the former leader’s health emerged after a report by the official state news agency MENA that Mubarak was declared “clinically dead” after he was transferred from a prison hospital to a nearby military hospital. The report could not be independently verified.
Ahram Online said the 84-year-old Mubarak, who was sentenced to life in prison this month for complicity in the deaths of hundreds of protesters in last year’s uprising, was on life support. Al Jazeera quoted Mubarak’s lawyer Farid Deeb as denying his client was dead.
CNN quoted Gen. Mamdouh Shahin, a member of the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces, or SCAF, as saying: "He is not clinically dead as reported, but his health is deteriorating and he is in critical condition."
Shortly afterward, Egypt’s Nile TV reported that Mubarak was in the military hospital’s intensive care unit and “his health was slightly improving.” The channel said his wife, Suzanne, was at his side.
Mubarak, a close U.S. ally who ruled Egypt for three decades, has suffered from a number of ailments including depression, heart attacks, cancer and hypertension. His sons, Gamal and Alaa, who are also in prison on charges of financial corruption, were recently moved to their father’s hospital wing on the advice of a doctor.
Mubarak’s last public appearance was at his sentencing hearing this month. He lay half upright on a stretcher and peered through the wire mesh of the defendant’s cage as the judge read his fate. His family had been pressing the country’s ruling generals for weeks to move him out of the Tora prison hospital for better treatment.
As news of Mubarak’s declining health spread across the capital, fireworks exploded and cheers rang out over the Nile. Activists alleged that the repeated health scares around Mubarak were a ploy by the military-backed government to have him moved out of prison.
"This isn't the first time Mubarak and SCAF cried wolf to find he's suddenly all right again, nice trick to get him out of Tora," activist Jasmine Khalifa posted on Twitter.
-- Jeffrey Fleishman
Photo: Egyptian men stand Tuesday before graffiti showing the faces of ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, right, and other military and political leaders. Credit: Daniel Berehulak / Getty Images