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EGYPT: Hosni Mubarak reportedly may go to court within 72 hours

May 23, 2011 |  5:56 am


This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

An Egyptian newspaper is reporting that former President Hosni Mubarak, held at a hospital in connection with an investigation into corruption and the deaths of anti-government protesters, could be transferred soon to criminal court.Lleghrnc

Al Shorouk newspaper reported (link in Arabic), citing unidentified judicial sources, that Mubarak would be transferred within 72 hours to criminal court to face charges that he ordered the killing of demonstrators.

Protesters have been clamoring for Mubarak's transfer, detention and trial. Thousands gathered in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday, hoisting signs that showed Mubarak in convict's stripes and behind bars. Many threatened to return for an even larger "Friday of Anger" this week if Mubarak and his associates were not tried for alleged crimes, and the campaign has been gathering steam on Facebook and other online forums.

Last week, Al Shorouk caused a stir when military prosecutors called an editor and two reporters in for questioning after they reported on an alleged government deal to offer Mubarak amnesty.

According to the reports, Mubarak planned to release a recorded appeal for amnesty, offering to turn over all of his assets to avoid a trial. The reporters cited unidentified Egyptian and Arab officials, as well as an unnamed military official who said a mediation deal was in the works.

The reports infuriated protesters, despite denials from the country’s military leaders.

The journalists were questioned and released Thursday after they signed a pledge not to report further on issues "which may cause confusion in the streets, without clearance from the armed forces," according to Egypt's state news agency (link in Arabic) and a rights activist.

The paper published a column the same day saying it had no intention of "polarizing" society but did not rescind or correct previous reports. It said it would stop covering the issue until the "mood allows for a free discussion."

Mubarak, 83, has been held at a hospital near his family's villa in the Red Sea resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, where this weekend doctors said he was still suffering from heart problems and depression.

For the record, 7:41 a.m. May 23: A previous version of this post referred to Arabic-language Egyptian news sources as being in Persian. 

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske in Cairo

Photos, from top: A demonstration is held in Tahrir Square in Cairo on Friday. Thousands of Egyptians took to the streets to reenergize demands for reform that they say have not yet been fulfilled. Credit: Mohamed Abd El-Ghany / Reuters. Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in June 2010. Credit: Khaled Desouki / AFP/Getty Images