CAIRO (Reuters) - An Egyptian court sentenced former president Hosni Mubarak and his two sons to three years in jail without parole on Saturday in the retrial of a corruption case, although the trio is unlikely to go to jail again.
Mubarak, who ruled Egypt with an iron fist for 30 years, and his sons Gamal and Alaa already spent at least three years each in prison for other cases, so will probably not have to serve out the sentence.
The retrial was of a case in which Mubarak was sentenced to three years in prison in May last year on charges of diverting public funds and using the money to upgrade family properties. His two sons were given four-year jail terms in the same case.
But Egypt’s high court later overturned the convictions and ordered a retrial.
“The ruling of the court is three years in prison without parole for Mohamed Hosni Mubarak and Gamal Mohamed Hosni Mubarak and Alaa Mohamed Hosni Mubarak,” Judge Hassan Hassanein announced on Saturday.
Mubarak’s treatment by the courts since being toppled from the presidency during the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings has been perceived by his opponents as too lenient and raised doubts about Egypt’s transition towards democracy.
Charges against him of conspiring to kill protesters during the uprising, centered around Cairo’s Tahrir Square, were dropped, and some of his associates were released from jail.
Egypt’s political transition has seen many upheavals. In 2013, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the then army chief, removed the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohamed Mursi from power after mass protests against his troubled one-year rule.
Security forces then launched a cracked down on the Brotherhood and its supporters, and then targeted liberal activists in what human rights groups have condemned as a return to police state and repression of the Mubarak era.
The U.S.-backed Egyptian government says it is committed to democracy, and large-scale unrest in the Arab world’s most populous country has ended.
Many Egyptians turned a blind eye to what is the toughest security crackdown in Egypt’s history for the sake of stability after street protests and attacks by militant groups gutted the tourism industry, a pillar of the economy.
Occasional troubles persist, however. On Saturday, one policeman and three Muslim Brotherhood supporters were killed in clashes in the city of Damietta, the Interior Ministry said.
In addition, Islamist militants launched an insurgency after Mursi was ousted. Based in the Sinai, they have pledged allegiance to Islamic State, and have killed hundreds of police and soldiers.
In North Sinai, their main strongholds, gunmen killed a police officer and a retired state security agent in separate attacks, security sources said.
Editing by Toby Chopra and Raissa Kasolowsky