Ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison for embezzling public funds, the former autocrat’s second conviction since he was pushed from power in 2011.
The verdict, which may be appealed, comes as Mubarak, 86, is being retried in a separate case linked to the death of protesters during the mass uprising that toppled him. An earlier life sentence in that case was overturned, angering many who saw it as evidence that little had come of the promises of social justice and accountability that followed his removal.
Mubarak, “instead of following the rule of law and the constitution, allowed himself and his sons free rein with state funds to take whatever they want,” Judge Osama Shaheen said in a televised court hearing.
The court also sentenced Mubarak’s two sons, businessman Alaa and onetime heir-apparent Gamal, to four years in prison in the case, which is linked to funds allocated to refurbish presidential palaces. The three were ordered to repay a cumulative 125.8 million Egyptian pounds ($17.7 million) to the state and the sons were also fined 21 million pounds.
Mubarak has been held in a military hospital since the retrial. He has spent much of the past three years either in that facility in or in the hospital ward of a Cairo prison.
The verdicts were handed down less than a week before new presidential elections are held to replace Mubarak’s Islamist successor, Mohamed Mursi, who was ousted in July. The front-runner is Abdel-Fattah Al-Seesi, the former army chief who pushed Mursi from office, whose only opponent is leftist politician Hamdeen Sabahi.
Al-Seesi’s critics worry the field marshal will install a police state harsher than the one Mubarak developed during his 29-year rule. Al-Seesi has dismissed the concerns, triggered by a crackdown on Islamists and some activists.