Elite detainees in Cairo prison after tables turn

Thu Apr 14, 2011 7:40am EDT
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By Shaimaa Fayed

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt's former ruling elite is having a taste of what they meted out to their enemies.

The pillars of former president Hosni Mubarak's regime and his two sons are now locked up in prison in an unprecedented settling of accounts with the former autocrat's government.

Mubarak, overthrown in a popular uprising on February 11, would have joined the string of VIP detainees except that the health of the 82-year-old former president is reckoned too precarious.

It is a stunning turn of events for Egyptians, even those who have gotten used to seeing the unthinkable happen after 30 years of political sclerosis under Mubarak, who protesters blamed for the deep rich-poor divide and rampant corruption.

"Never would I have ever dreamed of this. Mubarak being ousted is one thing, but nobody in Egypt would have imagined for a fraction of a second that the entire old regime would end up in jail," said Salma Shafei, a 34-year-old architect.

Many former top officials and elite business executives, who Egyptians had long thought of as above the law because of their power and wealth, are now under the gaze of watch towers behind the prison's high walls.

They have been ordered into temporary detention in probes ranging from graft and abusing power to killing of protesters. More than 380 were killed in demonstrations to oust Mubarak.

The latest visitors are Gamal and Alaa Mubarak, sons of the former president, whisked from the glitzy Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Wednesday to the prison. Gamal, 47, a top party official, was once seen as being groomed for president.   Continued...

<p>Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's sons Alaa Mubarak (L) and Gamal Mubarak, who is also the head of the higher political committee of the National Democratic Party (NDP), visit late former President Anwar al-Sadat's tomb in Cairo during his 29th death anniversary October 6, 2010. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh</p>