Egypt's ex-first lady Suzanne Mubarak was in stable condition after treatment for a "panic attack" and has effectively been put under arrest in the hospital pending further investigation of corruption allegations, officials said Saturday.
Mrs. Mubarak fainted and suffered chest pains following a three-hour interrogation Friday which ended with a decision to detain her for 15 days as prosecutors looked at the sources of her wealth. The wife of former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak has been accused of taking advantage of his position for personal gain.
Health Minister Ashraf Hatem said the 70-year old Mrs. Mubarak was in stable condition Saturday after a 24-hour monitoring period in the intensive care unit of the hospital in the Red Sea town of Sharm el-Sheikh. She is in the custody of the police, Hatem said, according to Egypt's state news agency MENA.
A hospital official had said she was visited Saturday by a cardiologist who found "noticeable improvement in her condition."
Later, a second team recommended she remain under observation for an additional 48 hours, according to the hospital's director, Dr. Mohammed Fatahallah. He said the team determined that Mrs. Mubarak still has high blood pressure and suffers from chest pains, and an angioplasty may be necessary. He was speaking to The Associated Press.
The continuing treatment makes it unlikely she will be transferred quickly to a Cairo women's prison facility, where she had been expected to be moved.
Earlier, a hospital official had told The Associated Press that Mrs. Mubarak on Friday "suffered from a sudden panic attack after hearing that she will be sent to prison." The hospital official spoke on condition of anonymity because he is not allowed to release the information before further tests were conducted.
Mrs. Mubarak's 83-year-old husband also is being treated in the Sharm el-Sheikh hospital, for a heart condition.
The former president had been questioned several times about allegations that he illegally amassed vast wealth, but Mrs. Mubarak was interrogated on Thursday for the first time on corruption charges.
The Mubaraks and other members of the former regime have been the subject of legal efforts to bring them to trial since the ex-president was forced to resign Feb. 11 after a popular uprising.
The process has been complicated by slow procedures and— in the Mubaraks' case— by health issues. Many in the protest movement have been critical of the current military rulers for being slow in pursuing corrupt officials, one of the movement's main demands.
Once a low-key first lady known for her focus on women and children rights, Mrs. Mubarak had in the last decade become a powerful mover in Egyptian politics.
She was a strong backer of her son Gamal's efforts to succeed his father as well as another son Alaa's business activities. She was known to have a say in the promotion of senior officials.
An April 2006 U.S. diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks said that "conventional wisdom holds that Suzanne Mubarak is her younger son's most ardent booster," pointing out that she often was photographed at public events with Gamal and that she was said to have kept the senior Mubarak from naming a vice president.
"Her power and influence, many argue, are keys to Gamal's viability," said the cable.
Protesters during the 18-day uprising blamed her for setting the country's political course.
Many stalwarts of Mubarak's regime — including his sons, the prime minister and the heads of parliament's two chambers — already are in prison on allegations of corruption, mismanagement of state funds and firing on protesters.
Mubarak has denied allegations of corruption leveled against him.
The Mubaraks are believed to have amassed great wealth, and the state news agency MENA reported that Mrs. Mubarak was questioned by government prosecutors about 20 million Egyptian pounds ($3.3 million) held in her name in one of the Cairo banks as well as a number of luxury villas.
One of Mrs. Mubarak's most vaunted projects was the rebuilding of the Alexandria Library. She was asked about allegations she took personal advantage of funds coming to that library and used her charity organizations as a front to amass wealth, Egyptian media have reported.
The Mubaraks have been staying here since he stepped down from the presidency in February. She had been going back and forth between the hospital and their villa, which has an estimated value of 36 million pounds ($6 million).
Last month, the country's police chief recommended that Mubarak not be moved from the hospital until his health stabilized after he also collapsed as his investigation began. In addition to being treated for heart problems, Mubarak underwent gallbladder surgery in Germany last year.