Mubarak's health in 'dangerous' turn

Hosni Mubarak , now facing a life sentence, is wheeledinto court in January. AP, File
Hosni Mubarak , now facing a life sentence, is wheeledinto court in January. AP, File
Posted: June 07, 2012

CAIRO - Hosni Mubarak's health entered a "dangerous" phase Wednesday, and doctors had to administer oxygen five times to help the deposed Egyptian leader breathe, according to security officials at his prison.

Mubarak's health crisis came days after he was sentenced to life in prison for failing to stop the killing of protesters in the uprising that unseated him last year.

The officials at Torah prison south of Cairo said Mubarak, 84, was suffering from shock and high blood pressure as well as breathing problems. Specialists were called in to examine him, and a transfer to a military hospital was being considered, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters.

It was not immediately possible to independently verify the gravity of Mubarak's condition.

Mubarak did not want to go to Torah after he was sentenced Saturday, pleading with his escort to take him back to the military hospital east of Cairo where he had stayed in a suite since his trial began in August. He was held in a hospital in his favorite Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh from the time of his arrest in April last year until August.

Mubarak was sentenced to life Saturday, but he and his two sons - onetime heir apparent Gamal and wealthy businessman Alaa - were acquitted of corruption charges. The sons are also being held in Torah, awaiting a separate trial on charges of insider trading.

The officials said prison authorities were allowing Gamal to be by his father's side. Alaa also applied for permission, but it has not yet been granted, the officials said.

Although Mubarak's authoritarian regime was widely unpopular by the time of his overthrow last year, conditions in Egypt have deteriorated since then, with a wave of deadly protests, a battered economy, and seemingly endless strikes.

Some evidence of displeasure over conditions could be seen in the second-place finish by Mubarak's last prime minister, Ahmed Shafiq, in the first round of presidential elections last month, ahead of more liberal candidates.

Shafiq is facing Muslim Brotherhood candidate Mohammed Morsi in a runoff June 16-17, but it could still be called off.

A spokesman for Egypt's highest court said that next Thursday, two days before the runoff, it would look into whether a "political exclusion" law is constitutional. The law bans senior officials who served in Mubarak's regime starting in 2001 from running for office. It applies to prime ministers, vice presidents, and senior members of Mubarak's now-dissolved ruling party.

If upheld, it could mean that Shafiq could not run - possibly forcing cancellation of the runoff and a repeat of the first round.

Quoted by Egypt's official news agency, the spokesman, Maher Sami, did not say whether the Supreme Constitutional Court would issue its verdict on the same day. Sami, however, said the court's experts had prepared their report on the law, suggesting that a ruling next Thursday was likely.

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