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Egypt's ex-president detained for investigation

Egyptians celebrate Wednesday, April 13, outside Sharm el-Sheikh courthouse where former president Hosni Mubarak's powerful sons Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were questioned by prosecutors. Prosecutors ordered their detention while their role in violence against protesters and corruption allegations are investigated, a police general said.
Egyptians celebrate Wednesday, April 13, outside Sharm el-Sheikh courthouse where former president Hosni Mubarak's powerful sons Alaa and Gamal Mubarak were questioned by prosecutors. Prosecutors ordered their detention while their role in violence against protesters and corruption allegations are investigated, a police general said.Amr Nabil / AP
/ Source: NBC News and news services

Egypt's prosecutor general announced a 15-day detention for the country's former president to investigate accusations of corruption and abuse of authority.

The Facebook page of the prosecutor general's office posted a statement early Wednesday announcing the detention of former President Hosni Mubarak, as well as that of his sons.

The page was set up as an outreach from the Justice Ministry to the families of those killed and injured during the 18 days of protests that ousted Mubarak in mid-February.

The statement says the ongoing investigation was into the orders to open fire on demonstrators as well as any abuse of the president's authority for personal gain.

Mubarak was hospitalized Tuesday in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, then underwent questioning — with a lawyer present, sources told NBC News.

The prosecutor general had issued a summons on Monday for the 82-year-old ex-president to be interrogated over the corruption allegations and violence during the uprising.

Dozens of demonstrators picketed the hospital in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, denouncing him and carrying a sign reading, "Here is the butcher." They scuffled with supporters of Mubarak amid a massive security presence.

In a telephone interview with Al Hayat Al Youm television, the hospital's director said that Mubarak was suffering from an irregular heartbeat and that his condition allowed him to be questioned. A hospital source also told NBC News that Mubarak had an irregular heartbeat.

Mubarak had been suffering a number of ailments and underwent gallbladder surgery in Germany in March last year.

Two Egyptian security officials said Mubarak arrived under heavy police protection to the main hospital. Two doctors in the hospital said he stepped out of his armored Mercedes, surrounded by security, and was admitted to the presidential suite in the pyramid-shaped building.

The officials and doctors spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media. Egyptian state TV later confirmed the hospitalization.

Doctors were not giving any details on Mubarak's condition but said that he was undergoing tests, Egypt's state TV station Nile TV reported.

Mubarak was forced to give up power on Feb. 11 after a popular uprising against his rule. He has kept a low profile since.

Demands for justice
The protest movement that deposed Mubarak is now pushing for him to be brought to justice for what they say are decades of abuse and since Friday, hundreds have reoccupied parts of Tahrir Square in downtown Cairo.

The protesters had criticized the army for being too close to the old regime and not swiftly bringing Mubarak to trial. His sons Alaa and Gamal were also summoned and were being questioned Tuesday, Al Jazeera reported.

Mubarak has denied allegations of wrongdoing.

On Tuesday, however, a scuffle broke out when some residents tried to break up the four-day sit-in, removing barbed-wire and barricades. The army then moved in and took control of the square and cordoned off the once grassy roundabout that had been the center of many demonstrations.

Sanaa Seif, a 17-year-old on the scene, said she saw the army forcibly remove people. Egypt's state news agency reported that the military police had detained a number of "outlaw thugs" at the square.

Mubarak was banned from traveling and his assets have been frozen. Many of his senior aides have already either been questioned or detained pending investigations.

In addition to Mubarak and his sons, Egypt's state TV reported that Safwat el-Sherif, a senior aide of Mubarak and one of the most powerful men in his regime, was also ordered detained for an additional 15 days pending investigation into his role in attacks on protesters during the uprising.

El-Sherif had already been remanded into custody for 15 days pending corruption investigations.

On Sunday, Mubarak defended himself in a pre-recorded message saying he had not abused his authority, and investigators were welcome to check over his assets.

It was his first address to the people in the two months since he stepped down. Shortly after, the prosecutor general issued the summons for Mubarak to appear for questioning.

Deciding on the site for the interrogation was a dilemma for the authorities who wanted to grant the ailing former president a degree of privacy and security.