Image: Egyptians celebrate outside a Sharm el-Sheikh courthouse
Amr Nabil / AP
Egyptians celebrate Wednesday, April 13, 2011 outside a Sharm el-Sheikh courthouse where Mubarak's powerful sons Alaa and Gamal Mubarak questioned by prosecutors.
msnbc.com news services
updated 4/13/2011 1:57:34 PM ET 2011-04-13T17:57:34

Hosni Mubarak's health is "unstable," a medical source said Wednesday, after the former Egyptian president was detained for 15 days pending inquiries into accusations of corruption and abuse of authority.

Investigators are probing the killing of protesters during the unrest that led to Mubarak's ouster, embezzlement of public funds and abuse of power. He has denied any wrongdoing.

"Former President Hosni Mubarak remains in hospital here and his health is unstable," the source told Reuters from Sharm.

Mubarak's two sons, Gamal and Alaa, were also detained for questioning and taken to Cairo's Torah prison, where a string of former top regime figures — including the former prime minister, ruling party chief and Mubarak's chief of staff — are already languishing, facing similar investigations on corruption.

The move was brought on by enormous public pressure on the ruling military, which was handed power when Mubarak stepped down on Feb. 11.

Tens of thousands protested in Cairo's central Tahrir Square on Friday, the biggest rally in weeks, demanding Mubarak and his family be put on trial. Many in the crowd accused the military of protecting the former president.

The detention is a new landmark in the stunning fall of the 82-year-old Mubarak, who only months ago appeared unquestioned in his control of Egypt after nearly 30 years of rule.

Even after his fall, he seemed untouchable, living with his family at a palace in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh.

On Tuesday night, Mubarak was taken to a hospital in Sharm el-Sheikh because of heart troubles, and so that his health could be monitored as he submitted to the first round of questioning by investigators.

Hours later, the public prosecutor announced early Wednesday that Mubarak was ordered put under detention for 15 days for investigation.

He was to be flown later in the day to a military hospital outside Cairo, where he would remain in detention, a security official in Sharm el-Sheikh said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

The detention also marks a new chapter in Egypt's still unsure transition to what protesters hope will be a democratic post-Mubarak future.

Protesters had pushed hard for Mubarak's prosecution, demanding what they called a clear signal that the corruption that pervaded his nearly 30-year rule would be definitively broken.

Public outrage was widespread over allegations that large fortunes were skimmed off by top regime officials through shady deals over the years.

'So happy'
Beyond the anger has been the fear that Mubarak cronies are maneuvering to regain power as the country tries to work out democratic rule — and that the ruling military was not taking action to prevent them, or was even abetting them.

"I was so happy in the morning when I heard the news," said Ahmed Maher, co-founder of the April 6 group, one of the movements that led the unprecedented 18-day protest movement against Mubarak.

"All people are very happy because this step reassured them after a period of doubts and stagnation," referring to doubts over the military's intentions, he told The Associated Press.

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Worries over the military were intensified by a fierce pre-dawn raid on protesters in Tahrir on Saturday that killed at least one person.

Still, Maher said, Egypt faces a long road to ensure the transition period leads to real democracy.

"Trying Mubarak and his regime is very important but what is super important is the political future of Egypt and what kind of political system we want to have," he said.

The prosecutor's announcement gave a momentary easing of tensions between the military and protesters.

Following the prosecutor's announcement, the coalition of youth groups that have organized the protests said it was canceling a planned new mass demonstration in Tahrir Square on Friday to demand Mubarak's prosecution.

But the coalition underlined that there were still unfulfilled demands, including the dissolving of the former ruling party and the sacking of Mubarak-appointed governors as well as university deans and local city councils, both seen as levers of his regime.

Activist Amr Bassiouny said in a Tweet that the detention was not the protesters' primary goal but "free speech, free assembly, free press, no torture, real democracy, end of lies."

Since Mubarak's fall, activists have complained that the Armed Forces Supreme Council, the body of top generals that now rules Egypt, has been dictating the post-Mubarak transition without consultation.

Relations have rapidly soured over past week, amid reports of abuses by the military that reminded some of Mubarak's rule — including torture of detained protesters and the imprisoning of an activist for criticizing the army.

Protesters have criticized the army for being too close to the old regime and not swiftly bringing Mubarak to trial while hundreds of protesters remain in military detention, some convicted in swift trials before military courts.

In its announcement, posted on the social networking site Facebook, the public prosecutor said Mubarak was under investigation into allegations of assaults, killings and injury of protesters, corruption, squandering of public funds, and the abuse of authority for personal gain.

Hundreds were killed during the 18-day uprising against Mubarak, when police opened fire and cracked down on the crowds.

Officials say 365 were killed, but a count by the Front to Defend Egypt Protesters, a group that provides medical and legal assistance to the demonstrators, said 685 people died as of March 7.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

Video: Court date set for Mubarak and sons

  1. Closed captioning of: Court date set for Mubarak and sons

    >>> his two sons are getting hauled into court in egypt. mubarak was in court yesterday. you'll recall he was taken away for heart problems , but it's clear the new guard may extract revenge on the new guard. our chief correspondent is briefly on home leave. he's with us in the stud growios. it seems like mubarak , the whole fwamally had a chance to leave. they chose not to. what haps to them in.

    >> they made a big mistake . they should have left when they could. the two sons are now in jail and they're under investigate, and there are people in egypt who don't want to see them get out. they could face death penalty. mubarak facing similar charges. he's still in the hospital. he had heart palpitations when he found out his sons and wife are under investigation. he's trying to stay in the hospital as long as he can, but if he can't and his doctors say he's well enough, he's going to go to jail as well.

    >> now to the last front we saw you and the story you'll be headed back to cover in short order, libya. americans are wondering why the rebels don't have the air cover they don't need. rebels are asking the same thing.

    >> every day, and they're getting frustrated. thas had a feeling that the west was with them, that nato was going to get the victory, and they discovered that was not in the cards. they felt they had false ixpectations. the sport hasn't been there, and the rebels haven't had enough strength to win.

    >> the question i have seen most people ask you, where does this all end?

    >> this whole movement in the middle east , and i'm worried about it because while people in the region deserve more rights and they're embracing more will and they're getting the will of the arab street , it's osanti- israel against an israel , and there are people who believe if you power the streets and the streets want to see a war or more justice for the palestinians down the road three to five years, this could lead to a major war with israel . it could also force a negotiated settlement, but i think over time , this thing ends in jerusalem.

    >> richard engle, home gribriefly on home leave, and we'll see you here or over there next. thanks tonight. sgroo a

Photos: Farewell Friday

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  1. Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Feb. 11. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Egyptians set off fireworks as they celebrate in Cairo’s Tahrir Square after President Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. President Barack Obama makes a statement on the resignation of Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in the Grand Foyer at the White House in Washington D.C. (Carolyn Kaster / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Egyptians celebrate in Tahrir Square after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military on Friday. Egypt exploded with joy, tears, and relief after pro-democracy protesters brought down President Hosni Mubarak with a momentous march on his palaces and state TV. Mubarak, who until the end seemed unable to grasp the depth of resentment over his three decades of authoritarian rule, finally resigned Friday. (Khalil Hamra / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Protesters walk over a barricade after it was taken down to allow free entry to hundreds of thousands of Egyptians in Tahrir Square in Cairo February 11, 2011. A furious wave of protest finally swept Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak from power, sending a warning to autocrats across the Arab world and beyond. (Yannis Behrakis / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. A spokesman for Egypt's higher military council reads a statement titled “Communiqué No. 3” in this video still on Friday. Egypt's higher military council said it would announce measures for a transitional phase after President Hosni Mubarak stepped down. (Reuters Tv / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Egyptian celebrates in Cairo after the announcement of President Mubarak's resignation. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Friday. A furious wave of protest finally swept Mubarak from power after 30 years of one-man rule, sparking jubilation in the streets. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. An Egyptian reacts in the street after President Hosni Mubarak resigned and handed power to the military in Cairo, Egypt, on Friday, Feb. 11. (Amr Nabil / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Thousands of Egyptian anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation on Friday. (Amr Abdallah Dalsh / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Egyptian soldiers celebrate with anti-government protesters in Tahrir Square on Friday. Cairo's streets exploded in joy when Mubarak stepped down after three-decades of autocratic rule and handed power to a junta of senior military commanders. (Marco Longari / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Friday. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Egyptians celebrate the news of Mubarak's resignation in Tahrir Square on Friday. (Tara Todras-whitehill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. An Egyptian woman cries as she celebrates the news of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, who handed control of the country to the military, Friday night, in Tahrir Square, Cairo. (Tara Todras-whitehill / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. Egyptian anti-government protesters celebrate minutes after the announcement on television of the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak, in Cairo's Tahrir Square on Friday. Vice President Omar Suleiman announced that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had resigned. (Khaled Elfiqi / EPA) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Opposition protesters celebrate Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak's resignation, in Tahrir Square on Friday. President Mubarak bowed to pressure from the street and resigned, handing power to the army. (Suhaib Salem / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Mubarak's resignation in Cairo on Friday. (Dylan Martinez / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. On Egyptian state television, Al-Masriya, Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman delivers an address announcing that Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has stepped down, in Cairo on Friday. (TV via AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
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  1. Image: Anti-government protesters celebrate inside Tahrir Square after the announcement of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's resignation in Cairo
    Dylan Martinez / Reuters
    Above: Slideshow (18) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Farewell Friday
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    Slideshow (61) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Week 3
  3. Image: Egyptian anti-Mubarak protesters
    Amr Nabil / AP
    Slideshow (93) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Week 2
  4. Image: Mohamed ElBaradei
    Khalil Hamra / AP
    Slideshow (83) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - Week 1
  5. Image:
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    Slideshow (17) Egypt's Mubarak steps down - World reacts

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