Egyptians reacted with mixed emotions to the life sentence of the former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarack for his role in the killing of pro-reform demonstators as his two sons were acquitted of corruption in the verdict, reports CNN. This mixed ruling triggered protests and a crowd of approximately 10,000 people assembled at Cairo's Tahrir Square. Protesters also vented similar emotions at the port cities of Alexandria and Suez on the Red Sea.
"When the pro-democracy protests started in January last year, few would have dreamed this would be the punishment handed down to the man who ruled over them for so long." "Justice was not served," said Ramadan Ahmed, who lost his son on January 28th during the bloodiest day of last year's uprising.
Mubarack was a Soviet-trained pilot and acted as chief of staff of Egypt's air force during the 1973 Mideast war. Early success of the Egyptian pilots against Israel made him a national hero, and Sadat made him Vice President in 1975.
After assuming office following Sadat's assassination, one of his early acts was to declare a state of emergency that barred unauthorized assembly, restricted freedom of speech and allowed police to jail people indefinitely. Mubarak made plenty of use of this Act. Under his command the Egyptian army clamped down on many of the riots and demonstrations carried out by disgruntled police officers in 1986, and Mubarak threw an estimated 30,000 people in jail when jihadists carried out a string of attacks on tourists.
Mubarack won 4 terms as president in elections, considered by most to be mere formalities. His 2005 election was his fifth and despite the fact that it was his countries' first multi-party presidential vote, it too was considered a sham.
Mubarak was a major player in the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, and under his command Egypt contributed troops to the U.S.-led coalition that drove Iraq out of Kuwait. Egypt, today, receives approximately $1.3 billion in military aid from the United States. Even after his "fall from grace" Obama stated that Mubarak had been "very helpful on a range of tough issues." Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Arab-language news network Al-Arabiya that he respected Mubarak. "He held peace between Israel and Egypt for over 30 years, and that's a great achievement, and I think it should not be forgotten," Netanyahu said.
Mubarak was forced to step down February 11 after nearly 3 weeks of uprisings where protesters demanded reforms. "840 people were killed by security forces during the revolution and more than 6,000 were injured," according to Amnesty International.
Current day Egypt is ruled by a military council. The council has promised to convey power after mid-June elections which will be between a member of the Muslim Brotherhood against a former Mubarak minister.
"Neither had been favored by the revolutionaries responsible for toppling Mubarak -- and some fear a win for former Prime Minister Ahmed Shafik will mean the ousted strongman's regime lives on in a different guise"