By BRIAN ROHAN
An Egyptian court ordered the release of the sons of deposed autocrat Hosni Mubarak on Monday, taking into account time already served on a corruption conviction.
The Cairo criminal court ordered the release of Gamal, Mubarak’s one-time heir apparent, and his brother Alaa, a wealthy businessman, after they were sentenced in May to three years’ prison each in a corruption case dubbed the “presidential palaces” affair by the Egyptian media.
The two were first detained in April 2011 — two months after their father stepped down during a popular uprising against his three decades’ rule, but were freed in January on bail before being convicted in May along with their father, who remains held in a military hospital.
The trio’s conviction, which came after a retrial, was for embezzling millions of dollars’ worth of state funds over the course of a decade, diverting money meant to pay for renovating a property for business and maintaining houses to instead upgrade their private residences.
Separately, the two sons also face trial on insider trading charges, with the next hearing in October. They were expected to walk free later Monday.
Last summer’s sentencing included a 125 million Egyptian pound ($16.3 million) fine to be paid by the three men, as well as the return of 21 million Egyptian pounds ($2.7 million) they embezzled. After the hearing, judicial and security officials said those amounts had already been paid by the Mubaraks following their first trial.
Many Egyptians view the brothers as key symbols of an autocratic and corrupt administration that struck an alliance with the mega-wealthy at the expense of the poor.
The rise of Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, who has vowed stability after four years of unrest and taken a tough line against dissent, has encouraged Mubarak supporters and upended the public perception and media depiction of the 2011 uprising. Political activists of all stripes are now often cast as troublemakers or foreign agents, and hundreds of the young activists who sparked the 2011 revolt are now either languishing in prison on charges of breaking a harsh new protest law or have left the country.