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Egypt releases Mubarak sons pending trial

Egyptian authorities released Gamal and Alaa Mubarak on Sunday night pending a corruption trial relating to embezzled public funds
In a picture taken in 2010 Alaa (L) and Gamal (R) Mubarak at an African Cup of Nations match (AFP)

Egyptian authorities have released Gamal and Alaa Mubarak, the two sons of ousted President Hosni Mubarak, pending a final trial for corruption, a security source said Monday.

"Mubarak's sons were released late Sunday from prison aboard a microbus so that their departure would not draw attention," the source told Anadolu Agency (AA) on condition of anonymity.

The move came three days after an Egyptian court ordered the pair's release in response to an appeal against their ongoing detention pending a retrial in which they face charges of having embezzled around $17 million from state coffers when their father was president.

Their lawyer, Farid al-Deeb – who is also defending the elder Mubarak – had told reporters earlier that Mubarak's two sons were eligible for release after an appeals court had ordered a retrial, thus overturning four-year jail terms that the two men received in May 2014.

The release order came the same day that Egypt marked the fourth anniversary of the popular uprising that forced their father to step down after 30 years in power.

In the years leading up to the uprising, speculation had been rife that the aging Mubarak was grooming Gamal to eventually assume the presidency.

The younger of Mubarak's two sons, Gamal had served as secretary-general of Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party in the years before the 2011 uprising.

Following the retrial order, the court also ordered the release of Mubarak, who had earlier been slapped with three years in jail in the same case.

The 86-year-old former president remains at a Cairo military hospital where he spent most of a three-year detention period while awaiting multiple trials. 

Last spring, Mubarak and his two sons were found guilty of embezzling public funds allocated for the maintenance of presidential palaces and of forging official documents.

The public funds were used to build, upgrade and furnish their own private properties between 2002 and 2011.

The three were ordered to pay back some 21 million Egyptian pounds (roughly $3 million) to the state and pay fines worth a total of 125.7 million Egyptian pounds (around $17 million).

In late 2012, Mubarak and his interior minister, Habib al-Adly, were both sentenced to 25 years in prison for their involvement in the killing of anti-regime demonstrators during the 2011 uprising.

But another court later ordered a retrial after the former president's lawyers successfully appealed the sentence. Last November, all defendants in the case were cleared of murder charges.